Article by anonymous guest Author:
A little-addressed facet of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) equation is the status of educators with mental illness. Most schools offer support for students who struggle with mental illness; however, this is usually not the case for teachers, especially in International Schools.
As an educator with a chronic mental illness, my condition is successfully treated. I work closely with a psychiatrist and take responsibility by staying with my treatment plan. Even so, I have faced discrimination although I do my job well.
I am not alone! A study funded by the Nuffield Foundation has been studying the mental health of teachers in England for more than 3 decades. Based on data collected from over 20,000 educators, 5% are today suffering long-lasting mental health problems. This figure is up from 1% in the 1990s. An increase in prescribed antidepressants has gone hand-in-hand with these statistics.
Public schools are ahead of the curve when it comes to teachers’ mental health issues, implementing support measures for faculty and staff. This is not so in the majority of International Schools. Attitudes such as the following on the part of school admin usually lead to negative outcomes for educators with mental illnesses in International Schools:
“Honestly, you’re one of the best teachers we’ve ever had, but if the community found out…….?”
“I see you’re dating another staff member. Shouldn’t people like you stay out of relationships?”
“We found out about your condition when we took a look at your health insurance claims.”
I am eager to be able to disclose my illness and work with administration to plan for any issue that might arise. No issues are yet to arise. Unfortunately, disclosure or discovery has led to Contract non-renewal for colleagues.
Please consider the following:
If you are an educator taking personal and professional responsibility for your mental health condition, what do you suggest?
As an educator or administrator in an International School, how comfortable are you working with a colleague with a known and successfully treated chronic mental illness?
A significant percentage of the population struggles with mental illness at one time or another. How can we make International education a safe place for effective educators with mental illnesses?
Anonymous Guest Author
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