Stress Effects and Mindfulness-Based Interventions Among Educators in Elementary School Classrooms
In the United States, work-related stress costs companies over $200 billion each year (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2015). Classroom teachers face a variety of challenges in their scope of work. Due to such challenges, teacher turnover and self-reported job dissatisfaction are at an all-time high, according to new research. Studies from the American Federation of Teachers (2017) show that the majority of American teachers feel over-stressed at work, and the number citing poor mental health has jumped alarmingly in recent years. Absenteeism, low job satisfaction and effectiveness, high attrition, and high burnout are all consequences of high teacher job stress (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). In fact, research by Pennsylvania State University (2016) suggests resultant costs in human resources and health care spending for teachers could amount to billions of dollars each year. In a recent study by the American Federation of Teachers 52% of teachers agreed that they do not feel the same enthusiasm as when they started teaching (AFT, 2017), and 46% report high daily stress during the school year (Gallup, 2014). This percentage is tied with nurses for the highest rate among all other occupational groups. Teachers also report instances of experiencing poor physical health aside from their mental health status. In addition, reports of bullying by superiors, colleagues, parents, and even students are evident at rates far higher than any other profession. To add to these health concerns, the vast majority of teachers indicate that they are sleep-deprived (Gallup, 2014). Policy-based interventions have been implemented in many schools as an attempt to address job-related stress, however, these interventions have been minimally evaluated by research (McIntyre et al., 2017). Additional information is needed regarding occupational stress among teachers. The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to explore existing research regarding the consequential effects of teacher stress in the workplace, identify teacher perceptions of occupational stress, and address the effectiveness of strategies and policy-based interventions, which may contribute to decreased resultant costs of work-related stress, such as turnover rates, negative social conditions, and culture/climate of school campuses. This study is premised on the assumption that enhancing the positive attributes and strengths of educators can have a positive impact not only on their performance and commitment but also on the performance of their students.