Opinion
Education Opinion

Teachers’ Mental Health Warrants Attention

By Walt Gardner — August 18, 2017 1 min read

The start of the fall semester is a good time to take a closer look at teacher burnout. It won’t be long before the grind of teaching five classes a day exerts a price. If companies are finally acknowledging the importance of their employees taking a mental-health day off, I say schools need to do the same (“Some Companies Want You to Take a Mental-Health Day,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15).

For too long, there has been a stigma attached to mental health. But mental issues can be every bit as debilitating as physical ones. Yet teachers are reluctant to take a day off when they feel mentally overwhelmed because they believe their absence shortchanges their students. The truth is just the opposite. I knew a dedicated teacher who soldiered on, only to wind up having to take early disability retirement. His students were forever deprived of his presence in the classroom as a result.

Teachers have little time to attend to their basic biological needs. Bathroom breaks have to be timed to fit the bell schedule. Pressure to boost test scores often means that teachers devote their lunch period to tutoring students. When the school day finally ends, they hasten to get on the highway before traffic becomes congested. My point is that most teachers will eventually reach a point where they need to take a day off just to briefly recover from the lockstep schedule. They should not feel guilty doing so.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read