There's an increase in stress, anxiety amongst SA teachers - psychiatrist

Psychiatrist, Dr Alicia Porter, said that returning to the classroom placed further pressure on teachers, as some struggled with a lack of PPE, challenges in monitoring learners' compliance with the rules, fears of contagion and children being sent to school with COVID-19 symptoms.

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CAPE TOWN - A lot of focus has been placed on children's mental health and how it’s been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but psychiatrist, Dr Alicia Porter, said that not enough attention had been paid to the mental wellbeing of teachers.

Porter, who is a member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists, said that teachers have had to put in extra work to make up for lost time amid rotational attendance and sporadic school closures as statistics showed that pupils had lost out between 50% and 75% of the learning that usually would have happened in a school year.

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Rapidly adapting to remote learning, finding ways to support learners who didn't have access to technology, while juggling the needs of their own families and fears of contracting COVID-19, as well as coping with losses of loved ones and colleagues - these are just some of the stresses, educators have had to deal with during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Porter said that returning to the classroom placed further pressure on teachers, as some struggled with a lack of PPE, challenges in monitoring learners' compliance with the rules, fears of contagion and children being sent to school while showing COVID-19 symptoms, while also supporting learners who had experienced loss.

“There has been an increase in anxiety, the patient's stress and also just an overall decrease in job satisfaction, and many teachers thinking about leaving the profession,” Porter said.

Porter urged teachers to put their mental wellbeing first because the wellbeing of an educator sets the tone in a classroom.

"Studies would show there's a correlation between the wellbeing of a teacher and the wellbeing of a student and their commitment to learning," said Porter.

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