According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, teaching staff and education professionals report the highest rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety in Britain (DfE,2019). It is therefore essential that schools actively focus on using ways to support teacher wellbeing.

What is teacher wellbeing?

Teacher wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy in your work as a teacher. It's important because when teachers have good wellbeing, they're more likely to be productive, creative and supportive; essential skills for a teacher and has a direct effect on student and school outcomes.

There are many things that contribute to teacher wellbeing, including having a positive outlook, autonomy and competence, good working conditions which include positive relationships with pupils and good classroom behaviour, a manageable workload and support from colleagues.

Factors that influence teacher wellbeing

Developing staff or teacher well-being is multi-dimensional, research tells us (Dodge et. al, 2012) that there are several interrelated factors that contribute to teachers or school staff having good wellbeing. These are

  • Their socio-economic status or financial security
  • Their sense of professional autonomy
  • Their sense of connectedness to other people and the school
  • Their sense of agency
  • Their beliefs about their personal competence

Factors that contribute to teacher wellbeing

According to the Education Support Partnership (2017) there are several work related factors that contribute to teachers having high or low levels of wellbeing at school. These include;

  • The demands of the job such as workload or work environment
  • How much control they have, ie a person’s own influence over how their job is carried out
  • The level of support they receive from colleagues, their line manager and the organisations
  • The quality of relationships with colleagues and students to reduce conflict and deal with unacceptable behaviour
  • Their understanding of their role, ie their understanding of the job content and expectations The management of change, ie how change is managed in the organisation

How to improve teacher wellbeing

There are practical things that can be done to improve teacher wellbeing and increase the wellbeing factors listed above, including developing a wellbeing culture, developing resilience, providing coaching and ongoing professional development opportunities that enable teachers to be aware of their stressors and learn personal wellbeing strategies that help them deal with the pressures of school live and teaching.

By taking care of their own wellbeing, teachers can create a more positive and supportive environment for themselves and their students.

However, despite teacher stress being at an all-time high and a top priority for school leaders to address many schools find it difficult to support teachers to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

Teacher wellbeing tips

Teaching can be a tough and challenging profession, with long hours, heavy workloads, and sometimes difficult students. It's important to help teachers take care of themselves so that they can continue to provide the best possible education for your students. Here are some piratical tips to help you stay afloat and maintain your wellbeing. Schools are always looking for practical ways they can support teacher and school staff wellbeing.

Take Regular Breaks:

Teachers in the UK work long hours on average over 50 hours a week, research tells us anything over 40 hours can result in long-term health issues. So it is important teachers and schools work towards reducing teacher working hours. Although it may seem impossible it is important for schools to encourage teachers have regular breaks to avoid burnout and stay fresh. Take a five-minute break to stretch and move around every hour, and give yourself a full lunch break to get away from your desk and relax.

Connect with Colleagues:

Supportive relationships at work are essential for teacher and staff wellbeing. Connecting with other teachers can help staff and teachers feel less isolated and provide a sense of camaraderie. Set up peer-led staff wellbeing interventions that support teacher wellbeing, our Staff Wellbeing Toolkit provides you with training and activities on how to lead your own school staff wellbeing interventions.

Set Boundaries:

It's important to set boundaries around your time and workload in order to avoid burnout. These can be boundaries to do with when, how and where you work. Tips include helping teachers learn how to say no to extra responsibilities or tasks that are not essential to their role, and set realistic expectations for themselves and their workload.

Practice Self-Care:

Teachers need to take care of their physical and mental health. Prioritise getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly. Consider trying mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga to help manage stress and anxiety. Our Staff Wellbeing Toolkit shares a whole downloadable library of staff wellbeing resources that support staff and teachers to practise self-car.

Celebrate Small Victories:

Improving staff and teach wellbeing can be a long-term strategy so it's important to celebrate the small victories along the way. Recognise and celebrate your own and team accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Whether it’s a successful lesson, a positive interaction with a student, or simply making it through a difficult day, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate your successes.

Involve all team members

One of the most effective ways to develop staff wellbeing is through coaching based activities that encourage staff to cocreate their own staff wellbeing interventions. This enables them to have buy-in, and create interventions that truly meet their needs. Working with staff teams, encourages positive relationships and competence which are essential for the development of wellbeig in staff.

Find out more about our Staff Wellbeing Toolkit, which helps you learn how to use a whole toolkit of wellbeing strategies and resources for teachers.

Barriers to staff and teacher wellbeing

Supporting staff and teacher wellbeing is a vital part of a whole school approach to developing wellbeing. However, staff can be resistent to change and to taking responsibility for developing and maintaining their own levels of wellbeing.

Worth-it recently spoke with Kim Carr, a senior practitioner positive psychology in a lead consultant for Worth-it and former psychology teacher and assistant head of sixth form, to find out her thoughts on why school staff and teachers don’t always prioritise their own mental health and wellbeing.

Kim runs a guest expert workshop for us on understanding and reducing barriers to staff wellbeing which is part of our Staff Wellbeing Toolkit.

Do you think teachers and staff in schools and colleges prioritise their own wellbeing enough?

No, the majority don’t focus on it at all – their own wellbeing comes behind the children and young people’s wellbeing.

Why do you think some school/college staff find it hard to prioritise their own mental health?

Some don’t see it as being important. There is always the time pressure and heavy workload – lack of time to do everything so staff put their own wellbeing to the bottom of their to-do list. They don’t feel their wellbeing is as important as those around them, especially their pupils and students. There are a lot of thought processes involving guilt about putting themselves first.

What other barriers might there be to supporting staff or teacher wellbeing? 

Personality traits can be a barrier in terms of some people considering themselves as copers. There’s a stigma, which seems to be more in the education sector than many other sectors now, that you only need to look after yourself when you’re ill or can’t cope ­– that wellbeing is only important for people who are struggling, not those who are coping.

There’s also cognitive bias in terms of people seeing themselves as strong so they don’t ask for help, but these people are at risk of burnout and by the time they realise they needed to look after their wellbeing it may be too late – they could’ve already become stressed out and physically ill or exhausted.

I know from personal experience and from supporting teachers that there’s huge time pressure and workload that comes with teaching. In a poll of 10,000 teachers, school leaders and support staff in schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, earlier this year, 35% of respondents said they would definitely not be working in education by 2026 (Education Support Partnership, 2022). I know systemic changes are needed in education and hope that, in future, there will be less pressure on people working within the sector, for the sake of staff wellbeing and the wellbeing of children and young people.

Why is staff and teacher wellbeing so important for wellbeing of pupils and students? 

Research has shown that developing the wellbeing of staff develops student wellbeing and vice versa: student and teacher wellbeing are two sides of the same coin (Roffey, 2012). Staff who look after their own wellbeing and are happy and contented most of the time are modelling flourishing and good wellbeing practices to their pupils and students. Teachers can’t give their best lesson if they’re feeling rubbish. Pupils can pick up on staff feeling below par and play up to this, which can cause more stress to the teacher who might display this to the pupils and their behaviour can worsen and so on – it can be a vicious cycle.

If staff have good wellbeing it increases their resilience to deal with day-to-day challenges of their role and to be more present for the young people; in turn the students will be more engaged.

What tips would you give to mental health leads to support teachers to look after their own wellbeing?

Firstly, to look after their own wellbeing! Provide a space where your staff can have open conversations. Positive relationships are so important for our wellbeing. Ask teachers and other school staff how they are and what they need from the school to support their wellbeing.

Honesty and sincerity are so important. People need to know that senior leaders aren’t just paying lip service to developing staff wellbeing for the sake of Ofsted inspection and to know that, if they show vulnerability, it will not affect their role or chances of promotion. This is something we cover in more depth in my Discovery Workshop which is part of Wellbeing Club, our DfE assured programme of support and training for Senior Mental Health Leads

For all school staff or teachers I would say take some time out every day to reflect on how you are and be proactive about mental wellbeing like you would your physical wellbeing.

Focus on your strengths – things that have gone right, not wrong. Focus on what you’ve achieved that day, not what is still to be done. Try writing down what you’ve achieved to help acknowledge your own successes.

Any final thoughts about teacher wellbeing?

If you’re struggling, it’s not unusual. At Worth-it we understand the different pressures school staff are under; we’re coming from a place of warmth and want to help you. We want to support you to be thriving and flourishing. We’re here to listen, not to criticise. Asking for help and talking through our problems shows strength and models vulnerability to other members of staff, pupils, and students.

How we can help you with staff wellbeing

Access our Free Webinar: Strategies to support teacher wellbeing to find out more.

If you would like more support to improve staff wellbeing, reduce burnout and manage stress, joining the Staff Wellbeing Toolkit provides an online resource toolkit and training for Senior Mental Health Leads to use tools and strategies that improve teacher and school staff wellbeing, this includes developing your own staff wellbeing resources, training and development opportunities.


DfE (2019) Summary and recommendations: teacher well-being research report. Accessed here

Dodge, Rachel & Daly, Annette & Huyton, Jan & Sanders, Lalage. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing.

Education Support Partnership (2017) Health Survey 2017 The Mental Health and Wellbeing Education professionals in the UK, London: Education Support Partnership

Education Support Partnership (2022) Teacher Wellbeing Index, London: Education Support Partnership. Accessed here

Roffey, Sue.(2012). Pupil wellbeing -Teacher wellbeing: Two sides of the same coin?Educational and Child Psychology. Accessed here

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