Greater than 80% of S’pore lecturers say Covid-19 pandemic has damage their psychological well being: Survey, Parenting & Schooling Information & High Tales
SINGAPORE – More than 80 percent of teachers in a nationwide survey said their mental health was negatively impacted by their work amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
They cited long working hours as one reason, with 80.6 percent saying they worked more than 45 hours a week.
This is above the average for the working population in Singapore, said the Singapore Counseling Center (SCC), which conducted the study.
On Wednesday (September 22nd), the results of the survey on the mental well-being of 1,325 teachers working from preschool to junior college were released.
More than 62 percent said their physical health had also deteriorated and reported symptoms such as irritability, insomnia and recurring headaches.
Almost half, or about 43 percent, said their personal relationships have suffered and around 33 percent got sick easily.
The SCC sent the survey to teachers via email or social media from August 13th to September 3rd. The email addresses were listed on their school websites.
When asked how they perceive their job, the three most commonly identified emotions were negative.
About 56 percent said they were overwhelmed, followed by about 39 percent who felt frustrated, and 21 percent said they were concerned.
The lack of work-life balance and overload are at the top of the frequent stress factors identified by the respondents.
Teachers said they faced long hours, with over 80 percent doing more than 45 hours a week. According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, full-time employees worked an average of 45.4 hours per week in 2020.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Ms. Karen Soon, the study’s project leader, said the culture of long hours and the inability to switch off from work is strongly related to the lack of work-life balance.
She added that primary, secondary and junior college teachers were louder than preschool and special education teachers about the added workload problem.
A teacher juggles multiple tasks, including academic teaching, classroom management, parenting, and event planning, Ms. Soon said.
This has grown with the Covid-19 pandemic due to additional responsibilities for teachers, such as:
A 27-year-old secondary school teacher who refused to be named told the Straits Times that stress levels had increased due to the many unexpected scenarios caused by Covid-19.
He said, “For example, you have to miss a colleague or student who misses class, and you have to find ways to help them keep up with the pace.
“It’s the uncertainty and fluidity of the current situation that make it difficult, especially when you can’t plan. Can you have additional lessons?
A 25-year-old elementary school teacher noted that mental health classes or workshops were not good enough, adding that administrative tasks were also taking too much time.
“We should streamline and simplify the lower-level administrative processes (like chasing students for documents for approved absences) because they use so much energy and take away energy for really good teaching.”
More than half of the respondents said they also have difficulty dealing with student behavior, which is made worse by insufficient support for students with special needs and difficulties with parents.
Many attributed this to “overwhelming” class sizes.
Despite these issues, most teachers reported that they could find at least one area of satisfaction with their work.
Although coping with student behavior was cited as the main problem facing the job, more than 81 percent said positive interactions with students were an area of satisfaction.
While the majority were under psychological pressure, the survey found that few sought help.
Ms. Soon found that 10.2 percent turned to a supervisor, while 8.2 percent spoke to a psychologist.
Many teachers have advocated structural changes like reducing class size, she said, calling on stakeholders to create a more positive environment for teachers.
The most common forms of support suggested by teachers included reduced workload, increased income, and undisturbed vacation.
Ms. Soon said, “We hope these recommendations will also help parents and students identify behavioral changes that they can make in their daily lives (interactions) that would really help teachers get better mentally.”
• National care hotline:
1800-202-6868 (8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
• Institute of Mental Health Mental Health Hotline:
6389-2222 (24 hours)
• Samaritans of Singapore:
1800-221-4444 (24 hours) / 1-767 (24 hours)
• Singapore Mental Health Association:
• Singapore silver ribbon:
• Tinkle friend:
1800-274-4788 and www.tinklefriend.sg
• Community Health Assessment Team:
6493-6500 / 1 and www.chat.mentalhealth.sg
• TOUCHline (advice):
• TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers):
• Care Corner advice center:
• My mental health
• Fei Yue’s online counseling service