A new study found that teachers in British Columbia reported deteriorating mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study from the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, along with the Centre for Health Evaluation & Outcome Sciences, asked teachers about their experiences during the pandemic.
The survey found that more than 80 per cent of teachers reported that their mental health was slightly or significantly worse now than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers noted a separate survey conducted in January asked the same question to a cross-section of Canadians and found that 40.5 per cent of respondents reported a decline in mental health.
“I was surprised at the level of deteriorating mental health that was reported,” Anne Gadermann of UBC’s School of Population and Public Health said of the study.
Nearly 70 per cent of teachers reported having fewer connections with students while more than 92 per cent reported fewer connections with colleagues and a tangible lack of support networks on the job.
Almost half of the teachers surveyed felt students’ social and emotional needs were being compromised.
Forty per cent of respondents said they are more likely to leave their profession in the next few years due to their experiences during the pandemic.
“We’re in a critical teacher shortage and so this really does speak to the need to really invest in recruitment and retention of teachers,” BC Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said.
Survey results have been shared with the BCTF and the provincial government in the hope that they can inform what the next school year looks like.
“This was a snapshot,” Gadermann said of the survey. “This was in February but there could be a long-term impact. So that’s what we think is very important.”
— with files from Aaron McArthur