It’s been a year since I stopped teaching after spending 12 or more years in elementary school. My journey from TA to teacher, then to subject leader to SLT, to finally throwing my hat into the deputy head ring is over (at least for now) – all with a little whimper.

At the time of the job change I was on sick leave due to my mental state (and yes, the manager knew this every step of the way). From then on there was no real contact with my previous employers; I didn’t come, I just wrote a long message with “Thank you” and “Goodbye” from myself in the Whatsapp group and forwarded the replies from my colleagues.That was it, I was done! This was my last contact with most of the speech therapists, some of whom I had worked with for over 10 years.

Am I bitter? NO. I am tired?Not really. Was I expecting a little bit more in non-professional terms? Most probably.

I can overthink it for many different and unfavourable reasons but, the truth is, I was never one who formed close bonds with colleagues. I got on really well with them, had great working relationships with most and took a genuine interest in them as people but ultimately, my time with them was always spent in work.Life goes on, people change and the world changes.

Let’s focus on the here and now for a moment…

I currently work for the local authority as a secondary school supervisor. We support students who are at risk of dropping out of school for a number of reasons. The majority of the work is emotional: developing emotional awareness and intelligence, helping them understand themselves and their triggers, and dealing with overwhelming feelings and emotions. We are often seen as emotionally available adults who are a constant presence in a student’s life. This
role has given me a different work-life balance than before.You don’t have to work outside of office hours and you certainly don’t have to work on weekends! There is an idea in teaching that when you enter the profession you can expect a heavy workload and evening and weekend work is the norm (I was told this about ECT when the issue of workload was raised). Not only has the extra time allowed me to spend quality time with my young family, but it has also allowed me to explore other areas of interest such as starting the
mental health podcast and gaining various qualifications: First Aid for mental health (adults and adolescents). ) ) and a diploma in digital marketing, to name a few.


However, the biggest difference, and essentially the reason I stopped teaching, is the improvement in my mental health. I’ve been living with depression for about three years and for the first time I feel like I have it under control (at least most of the time). Yes, there are days/weeks when I know my mental health isn’t the best, and yes, I still have a hard time expressing what’s on my mind. But these episodes are rare.

I am very easy to read. I’ve been told that I’m a terrible poker player. So when I’m gone, people know.I’ve been working with my boss for a year now, she knows me and understands me. Additionally, she is incredibly understanding and easy to talk to. Overall, I find it much easier to talk about my depression than how I feel. About a month ago, I texted him to let him know I wasn’t feeling well and to explain how I was feeling at the time. This was a big deal for me!A truly crucial moment that required a lot of courage. But I’m glad I did it because it was very important for both of us and it was a very positive episode. This shows the relationships we have already built in a short period of time.

I’m talking about someone who will take you… my wife. Patient, caring, loving – all of these qualities are on the list of words you look for in a person.Without them I wouldn’t be able to see the forest through the trees. For about 18 months, I firmly believed that I could improve my depression and mental health on my own. I had this mindset: “Now that I know I’m depressed, I can deal with it easily!” » Not the best way to think when I’m in lockdown and have a 4 year old and a baby on the way!!! But there was no pressure from him, no judgment, just support. When I finally came to the conclusion that I needed professional help, I heard a simple “I’m proud of you!” For me, it was and for the most part still is so powerful. This led me to the decision to leave teaching: it was never about money, about leaving the profession or “giving up” the position I previously held.Everything depended on my well-being. I am lucky to have such understanding people at home and at work.

“But why did you stop teaching? » – you are probably wondering. First of all, there wasn’t just one reason and I wouldn’t even say there was just one major event.Instead of filling my emotional backpack, instead of emptying my emotional bucket, however you prefer to describe it! Now I understand much better by reading, researching and learning more about mental health. Now I know how different aspects of my life, now and in the past, have contributed to and influenced my mental health.

Looking back, I see that six months before the moment of “breakdown” and sick leave, I had problems: I didn’t care about my appearance, I isolated myself in my room and left work as quickly as possible. For the first time, I felt guilty about going to work and I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. It was not me! During this time I felt (rightly or wrongly) that I no longer had the same relationships with some of my colleagues as before and that I could not talk to them about what I was going through. When I finally discussed some issues (after I returned to work), I was told that I needed to “find ways to resolve some issues.”In hindsight, not very helpful. I returned to work for the 2020-2021 academic year and left my position in November 2021 to take up my current position.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just change schools. I had such a bad attitude that it would cause disaster. What should I do if I change schools and still don’t want to teach?What if I’m no longer a good teacher? What should I do if I can’t find a job because it’s too expensive? And honestly, before I started looking for another job, I was completely disillusioned with my role as a teacher and had no way of convincing myself that I would stay there. I just thought that if I felt like that here, I would feel that way at the school I went to. However, I always said that maybe one day I would work as a teacher again.

Was it the class or perhaps the environment I was in? What is a combination of both? But now I can honestly say I don’t miss it at all. Yes, it makes me a little sad when I think about it too much: I loved it and was damn good at it, but when it came to my health, for the first time it became about me and my family and what was best for me. We. In that regard, I should have done this much earlier.But we live and learn. However, the whole episode gave me a new perspective. He made it clear what was important and what wasn’t. It showed me the importance of taking care of yourself, setting priorities, the importance of a positive attitude (I know that’s not always easy) and the impact good relationships can have on you. It also gave me a new passion: mental health and wellness!This is an area where I can really make a difference, especially in education.

Sometimes even at the expense of your health? Are we spending enough time finding out what people want from their jobs and careers? What’s wrong with focusing on being the best professional you can be in the classroom? Many teachers have honed their craft throughout their careers and made an incredible impact.

I think it’s a question of perception and the stigma associated with this profession: the best teachers work in 6th grade, you’re gay if you want to work in 1st grade, you’re not a good one Teacher, if you work as a teacher for the life of your career: Anything that doesn’t make sense!I feel like society still defines success by how high you climb on the leadership ladder and pushes men to find value based on their status. I’m sure this applies to women too and they face such pressure.

To what extent does this culture still exist and should it be changed to contribute to teacher mental health and retention? We know that teaching is an extremely rewarding but also extremely stressful job. Is our school culture suitable for promoting the mental health of teachers and reducing stress as much as possible?I’ve seen some great threads around best practices around employee wellbeing and it’s really important to share the incredible work that’s being done. But are these isolated cases or is it a more common phenomenon these days?


trippy hallucinogens

We know that workload and work-life balance are the biggest stressors in teaching. Do existing policies and procedures increase or decrease this stress? Let’s start by thinking about school staff as people first and foremost: we know what works for them and what doesn’t, what their needs are (both professional and personal), and how best to support them!Safe spaces for students are “non-negotiable” (sorry, many people don’t like that term), and rightly so, but what about staff? A culture and environment that allows stakeholders to discuss openly and avoid bias, with systems in place to support those who are struggling. Systems that provide relief before their mental health becomes mental illness. We could provide all staff with a toolkit to help them manage the day-to-day demands of working in education – resilience is key to managing stress, but we actively encourage this in teachers by equipping them with the necessary tools to to develop this key quality?

There are so many questions to answer – some presenting more challenges than solutions. However, school staff are our most important resource and we must care for them and know how to care for ourselves. How can we expect the best from students if we cannot offer them the best version of ourselves?

According to the Teacher Wellbeing Index (2021), 77% of all employees suffered from work-related symptoms of poor mental health last year, an increase compared to previous figures. That’s not really surprising.We all know the impact this profession can have on us, which is why I believe more needs to be done to protect mental health: by raising awareness of it, by raising awareness of how to care for yourself and cares for others It is important that it is normal to talk about mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I see the incredible work being done in schools around the world, both first hand and through social media, places that would compel me to teach again.
also does great work supporting schools, people I’m lucky enough to connect with on Twitter (I won’t mention them by name because I’m sure I’ll miss some).

This isn’t exactly a catastrophe that would affect the mental health culture of an education blog. Far away from here.It’s me, I hope everyone reading this knows they are not alone. A blog that I hope will help those who find themselves in the situation I find myself in. The one who emphasizes that this is not the end and that it is worth prioritizing yourself. A blog that encourages you to socialize – that’s really the best thing you can do. Whether you are an individual, a school or an organization, support is available to you.Grab this and start your journey to positive mental health!

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