Educators’ mental health and well-being is associated with their students‘ mental well-being or feelings of distress, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.1
Teacher and student data were pooled from 25 schools in England and Wales that participated in the WISE Project (Wellbeing in Secondary Education), a cluster of randomized controlled trials in which teacher well-being and depressive symptoms were assessed via the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire, respectively.2
A total of 3216 students aged 12 and 13 years, as well as 1182 teachers, were included in the final cross-sectional analysis. Investigators assessed the associations between the well-being of teachers with the well-being and psychological distress of students. Well-being and psychological distress were assessed with the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and Total Difficulties Score.
Teachers with better well-being scores were associated with students who rated better well-being on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale in the adjusted analysis. In addition, higher teacher well-being was associated with lower student-reported psychological distress in the model that included individual student and school-level factors in the analysis.
A good relationship between teacher and student was associated with lower psychological distress among students. In addition, teachers reporting a greater number of depressive symptoms were more likely to have students with poorer well-being and greater psychological distress.
The inclusion of only English and Welsh schools, as well as the cross-sectional design of the study, limits the generalizability of the study, as well as the ability “to establish the temporal direction” of the observed associations.
The associations between teachers’ and students’ mental health and well-being “appear at least in part to be due to the quality of teacher-student relationships and teacher presenteeism,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore,” they added, “interventions to improve these aspects of school life, possibly by addressing teacher wellbeing and symptoms of depression, may improve outcomes for students.”
- Harding S, Morris R, Gunnell D, et al. Is teachers’ mental health and wellbeing associated with students’ mental health and wellbeing? J Affect Disord. 2019;242:180-187.
- Kidger J, Brockman R, Tilling K, et al. Teachers’ wellbeing and depressive symptoms, and associated risk factors: a large cross sectional study in English secondary schools. J Affect Dis. 2016;192:76-82