Recently, the topic of mental wellness has been gaining more attention. With many of us feeling fatigued and more isolated due to Covid-19, it’s no wonder that more people are feeling the blues. Covid-19 has also wreaked havoc on the way we live, causing some to face challenges in adapting to the “new norm”.
In particular, teachers have been identified as those who need more support. On top of the multiple Home-Based Learning (HBL) thrown at them, the significant incident that happened at River Valley High School has taken a toll on our teachers.
Teachers are humans too and need support
Teachers now have a very demanding job scope and the never-ending responsibilities add up into stresses in their life. Long gone are the days where teachers get to end their workday by 230 or 3pm in the afternoon. Now, apart from handling their lesson plans and conducting lessons, teachers often work till late at night due to the planning of other activities such as CCA. This is on top of the marking that they need to do as well. In addition, teachers also handle lots of admin work and are constantly on the lookout for students’ wellbeing. It is also not unheard of for teachers to have to answer parents’ messages and calls even after work hours.
A common expectation thrown on teachers is to bear with it, since it’s “for the students’ wellbeing”. However, we forget that they too, are humans and need support. Every person has a limit to how much they can handle, and honestly, handling a class of 30 students and 60 parents is no easy feat. This inability to “switch off” and have their own time inevitably becomes a burden in their lives. Teachers deserve their personal time off and most importantly, a mental break from all the responsibilities thrown at them.
Create a safe space for employees to share their concerns
Instead of telling employees just to “bear and deal with it”, a safe space can be created for them to air their concerns. This allows the employers to better understand the gaps and support that they need to provide.
NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng spoke about this need in his recent Facebook post. He shared that some unions have started training their union leaders on mental wellness and are also conducting mental wellness sessions for members. For the teachers, the Singapore Teachers’ Union is also providing in-house Teacher Wellness counselling for members.
A paradigm shift is needed towards the way we treat mental wellness in the workplace. Instead of treating it like a taboo subject, we should be moving towards having a greater competency at handling it. Thankfully, Young NTUC and NTUC LearningHub has launched a WSQ-certified training on mental well-being peer support skills. The intent is to strengthen mental well-being support for working adults by building a community of WSQ-trained peer supporters.
This is definitely a move in the right direction to de-mystify mental wellness. By training more employees to become peer support, a mental wellness network can be formed. This in turn, would encourage more to open up about their struggles and seek counselling when they need to. Sometimes, a listening ear and support speaks volumes to those around us.