Looking after your mental health as a teacher

Page last reviewed: 04 March 2021

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.

This section of our guide on returning to school after the coronavirus lockdown provides advice on how teachers can look after their own mental health when schools resume face to face teaching.

Plan in time for the things that help you 

Think about what helps lift your mood and gets you through stress, and plan extra time in for you to do that. Whether it’s exercise, safe face-to-face or virtual time with friends, or protected time with family. Try not to let these things go or sacrifice them. 

Keep up with the basics

Try and keep the basics going as much as you can – eating as well as you can, getting enough sleep and watching your caffeine and alcohol intake. Give yourself small rewards. 

Share how you're feeling with people you trust

If you can, identify a group of people you can be honest and open with about your feelings. Partners, friends, or close colleagues will want to help, and mixing the group up means you can ask different people for different things. 

Share how you're feeling with your manager

If you can have a conversation with your manager or senior team about your worries, it might help them to understand and be part of your support team. If you can encourage the staff team to adopt the same messages or nurturing and reconnection you’ll be doing with students, it can really help.

Keep things in perspective

Remember, this is a period of adjustment for everyone. You aren’t a superhero; you are one single professional in an unprecedented period of change. The rules will change, and the school community will learn and adapt, but you can only control you and the circumstances in your classroom today. 

Find small moments to yourself 

Try to keep in touch with how you feel and what, if anything, is a particular issue for you. Try and find a distraction technique to get you through difficult times. It might be headphones on the way in, a podcast in the car, or just five minutes of peace at lunch or break to do a meditation track or have a moment of fresh air. 

Approach others with kindness and an open mind

If you can, try not to judge others’ reactions too harshly – people have their own reasons, motivations and fears to contend with that we’re not aware of.

Note things you're grateful for

Keep a note of things you’re grateful for and things you’ve learned each day. You do this job for a reason – and the reasons why teaching and working with young people is so appealing may be even more important now, even though the challenges are tough.