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Six in 10 teachers worry they’re spending too long dealing with kids’ emotional needs

Mental health, behavioral and emotional issues have increased since the pandemic.

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By Mustafa Mirreh via 72Point

More than six in 10 teachers worry they're spending too long dealing with their students' emotional needs - and not enough time educating them.

A poll of 500 UK teachers found 52 percent believe they are seen as social workers by some parents but are ill-equipped to deal with the responsibility.

And although 37 percent have been trained in mental health and well-being, half said it's 'not why they became a teacher.'

Of those polled 79 percent would do anything to help the teens in their care, but feel they don't always know the right way to help a student going through an emotional episode.

87 percent have lost sleep due to the stress of managing a student’s problem, with 41 percent even considering a new profession.

The research was commissioned by online alternative provision provider Academy2, which supports students with a diverse range of needs including Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA), challenging behavior, medical issues, teenage mothers, young people in care, and school refuses.

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Ashley Harrold, executive headteacher for Academy21, said: "Teachers are in a difficult position.

“The teaching profession has become more challenging over the years, particularly with a broad range of responsibilities now on the table.

“It’s clear that a huge part of the role is now dealing with the emotional needs of students in class, which some teachers might have not anticipated in their career path.

“This has become such a problem for some educators that they are even questioning why they became teachers in the first place.”

The study also found the average teacher estimates they spend nearly a quarter of the school week supporting children with mental health, behavioral or emotional issues.

And 75 percent have taught a child who has had an emotional breakdown in school, with 66 percent of those talking to the student in private afterward.

Others in that situation have invited parents to school to discuss the incident (45 percent), referred it to the head (39 percent) or spoken to a medical professional (17 percent).

More than three-quarters (77 percent) have also had to respond to a serious issue with a student, including body confidence issues (43 percent), self-harm (35 percent) and substance abuse (30 percent).

Worryingly, 61 percent of teachers have seen an increase in the number of students staying away from school for prolonged periods due to emotional and physical distress since the pandemic.

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Nineteen percent feel out of their depth when it comes to providing emotional support to their students, and 51 percent don’t think they have received enough training.

Stressed students: 42 percent don’t feel they have the resources they need and 33 percent don’t have the time to focus on the emotional needs of the whole class.

As a result, 67 percent worry about giving the wrong advice to children, with 56 percent seeking advice from medical professionals on how to deal with those in need.

Nearly half (49 percent) also claimed they were not expecting to deal with emotional challenges when they first qualified as a teacher.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found 38 percent feel tired when teaching their students and a third feel stressed.

Ashley Harrold added: “With the emotional levels involved in teaching and helping children in schools, educators are increasingly seeking ways to not only support their students but also manage their personal well-being.

“That’s why it is important to have the necessary resources available in schools to aid the education sector to deal with the everyday challenges experienced.”

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