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AT the Bumiputera Education Roadshow in Kuala Nerang, Kedah, on April 22, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid talked about providing assistance to teachers suffering from stress or depression.

Teachers’ workdays extend beyond 3pm and work duties and stress go into extra time. They are evaluated based on their students’ performance in tests, over which they have little control.

Then comes assessment and standardised teaching. Curriculum maps are written and workbooks distributed. Teachers do not have autonomy over how or what is taught and what needs to be done. No one encourages teachers to teach better. Don’t these make things depressing?

Some may love teaching, but others feel that it doesn’t bring them happiness. To make matters worse, social media postings and unverified reports portray teachers in a bad light. Naturally, these cause stress in them.

Research has shown that the main triggers for depression in teachers include excessive workloads and working hours, poor pupil behaviour compounded by large class sizes, the pressure of assessment targets and inspections, management bullying and lack of professional opportunities.

Teachers need colleagues who can step in and take over. They may need counselling or mental assessment, especially when they show symptoms that things are getting out of hand.

Those who have dealt with depression and anxiety agree that it is important to set boundaries and establish routines.

Many recommend time out for relaxation and physical activities. Counselling and medication may ease the symptoms, but switching to a more supportive working environment does wonders for their mental and physical health.

Azizi Ahmad, Kuala Lumpur

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