Mental Health and ELT #3


Brain_Tree_Roots_Psychology 2 (Pixabay)

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Following my request on 1 December for people working in English Language Teaching to complete a survey, I received over 500 responses from around the world.  The response was so overwhelming – but in a good way – that I closed the survey after three weeks, in order to take stock and to begin to analyse the information shared.  It’s going to take a while, so please bear with me.

A full report of my findings will follow in 2018 ahead of a confirmed conference talk in Brighton on 10 April.  In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the public blog posts on this or similar topics.  I have previously linked to the first three from this blog and these ones contain links to other blog posts. Some of the links below were offered in the survey responses.  Several people wanted to share something that they have written but felt that doing so would compromise their anonymity so those have not been shared here. The remaining links were collated by me this year and were not part of the responses.  I’ve made them all user-friendly links, thanks to a suggestion I received.

If you took part in the survey and submitted a link but it is not listed here it might be unavailable or I couldn’t find the exact link to a relevant post on mental health or wellbeing from the information provided. If that is the case you could leave a comment with a direct link at the end.

Lizzie Pinard – Mental Health in ELT

Sandy MillinUseful links on mental health in ELT

Elly Setterfield – A-Z of self-care for Teachers

+ How to Stay Sane

+ What to do when you can’t stop criticising yourself

Katherine Bilsborough – Self-development as a way to tackle low self-esteem

+ Winning the battle against low self-esteem

coperebecca – How many times do you have to start Again, Again, Again

Tyson Seburn – ELT ratio: your path to burnout

Clare Maas (Fielder) – Stress Awareness Discussion – teacher 5 a day

+ Beating burnout and avoiding stress – Top Tips

Roseli Serra – Burnout in ELT

Phil Nash – Five great ways to boost Language Teacher Wellbeing (BESIG)

Lama Obeid  – What do they know about Depression

Danny McNeive – Living with Depression

Kieran O’Driscoll – Bullying, harrassment and Workplace Abuses

Laura Patsko – Mental Health (in ELT)

Conferencing for Introverts

Paul Walsh (TaWSIG) – Interview with Phil Longwell about mental health

Parisa Mehran – I am More than a Stereotype

Teachers are Gold project (Australia)

Fiona Oates / ELTjam – Why mental health matters

Marie Delaney – Managing our own wellbeing (The Learning Harbour)

Denise Cowle – How should i deal with workplace anxiety

The Secret DOS – You don’t have to be mad to work here

Neil Millington – Be Kind to Yourself 

Mind – Supporting workplaces to be mentally healthy

One of the respondents, Helen Waldron, has written a book on Teacher Identity

Not ELT but this, from the Secret Teacher, is relevant – Class, I wish I had told you about my mental health

Again, not ELT but relevant – Kevin McLaughlin – The Depressed Teacher

Again, not ELT but relevant – Daisy Buchanan – How to support a friend who is struggling with their mental health

That’s it for now and that’s it for 2017!  Happy New Year!  Do look after yourself.

Happy New YEar

Mental Health and ELT #2

Brain_Tree_Roots_Psychology_Mental_Health (Pixabay)

The roots of our mental health (photo credit: Pixabay)

I have just been accepted to give a talk at the IATEFL conference in Brighton next year. It will be my first proper conference talk having joined this organisation in 2012 and watched many others do so.  While being excited by the prospect, I also feel somewhat daunted by it – especially given the topic I want to discuss.  Earlier this year, I gave an interview about my own mental health issues in relation to working in the English Teaching profession and how it had affected my career.  I wasn’t sure if a conversation about mental health in ELT had already begun within this industry or to what extent other teachers had already written about it. I subsequently found that quite a few already have and more teaching professionals have added their voice this year. I have been collating blog posts but now comes the next stage.

I would be very grateful if people who work within English Language Teaching, whatever their role, could complete my survey.  This research will form part of my talk and I will also publish the results in April 2018, around the time of the talk.  I am not looking for statistics – just qualitative responses!  I give all assurances to confidentiality, anonymity and data protection in the survey.  Most of the questions are optional, including all that relate to personal information.  Furthermore, I will follow the British Association for Applied Linguistics’ recommendations on good practice at all stages before following-up and before any publication of the results.

Please see the preview below or click here to access the survey.   Then once you have completed it please share with colleagues, employers and other interested parties. Hopefully, it will generate some great responses on this important topic.

Below is the short link to the survey if you wish to copy and paste into your blog or social media:

Update: I will stop receiving new responses and close the survey on 21 December.

Thank you for visiting.



Mental Health and ELT

I am starting a conversation about mental health in English Language Teaching.  I am not sure if this has ever been discussed or debated widely within the industry.  In doing so, I am sharing some personal information about my experience of suffering from poor mental health at work. I do this in the hope that other teachers will open up, too, leading to more understanding and support for teachers as workers.  I have never known professional development or training within ELT deal with these kinds of issues. For many, a stigma still exists.  There is still a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance.  It is an ongoing challenge.

In the past, I have volunteered for the mental health charity, Norwich Mind, and am hoping to do something for them again in the near future. I was and still am intrinsically motivated. I also follow the Time To Change campaign which is foremost about ending discrimination, mostly in the workplace, against people who suffer with mental health issues.

I’ve always considered my own issues to be a personal thing, not one of institutional discrimination or workers’ rights. Nonetheless, to coincide with the national Time To Talk day, I’ve been interviewed by Paul Walsh for the Teachers as Workers Special Interest Group (TaWSIG). You can read the interview here.

The image on the right shows a censored version of my diary note (written on 10 October 2016) listing the 11 times since 2006 that poor mental health has impacted on my teaching career, including 2 trips to the IATEFL conference in Liverpool (2013) and Harrogate (2014).  I have redacted the details to protect myself and colleagues who worked with me or were my line managers at the time.

If the post proves to be popular then I might consider the possibility of speaking about it at a conference at a later date.  I’ve never seen this particular topic presented within our profession but am curious to know if it has been.

Please feel free to comment here or on the TaWSIG  site. I promise to personally respond to each and every one that leaves a message.

*update 6 Feb:  The interview post received hundreds of views in a few days. In the week following its publication, it was shared many times on social media. It inspired at least two other bloggers, Sandy Millin and Elly Setterfield to write their own personal responses to coincide with Time to Talk day, including lots of links and resources on this topic.  I was thrilled by the response and hope to follow this up at a later date.  In the meantime, I am planning on approaching Mind once more to see if they have any work for me.