Then there was the time that I was SO HAPPY to have bronchitis…. Who is happy about getting super sick?
Over-stressed people, that’s who.
Bronchitis provided me the gift of some days off to rest which I needed for my own mental health more than even my physical health! Of course at the end of the time off on comes the guilt (prosocial domain), the worry about the mess you will return to (emotion domain), the challenge of trying to stay focused on your planning for the first day back (cognitive domain), the phone calls from your concerned mother to return (oh big sigh the social domain is full of stressors) and the fact that you are still getting over actually being sick (biological domain).
Which brings me to another related point…
What really is the difference between mental health and health?
All the efforts to address the stigma connected to mental health is promising and positive. I am looking forward to the day when this is actually a non-conversation because there is no stigma to bust. Self-Reg can help with this. We need to be paying attention to the brain-body stress response system, the science that underpins self-regulation and the oodles of research linking mental health and well-being to healthy bodies.
Our teachers are over-stressed, the absentee rates from educators are through the roof, and the impacts on student learning, behaviour and well-being are all tied to taking care of our school folks. What if we took a different approach and learned from our teachers who (like me!) have had moments of sheer relief because they were sick and could “legitimately” take some much needed days to recover and restore?
And if you are reading this and shaking your head, do know that this is one of those issues that you cannot fully understand if you’ve never walked in the shoes of a teacher. The experience of stress in certain roles can only be understood from the inside out. Memories of my newborn daughter through six months of colic comes to mind as another example. But trust me, teaching is right up there as a ‘you had to live it’ experience to understand the toll it can take on brain-body health and well-being.
Stuart Shanker and I had a conversation about this rich “What If..” topic which you can watch here or in the player below.
What if we made mental health days universal and required all team members to take several off every year? I know this is a big what if, but really what if? Would the same outcome happen in your schools that did for my friend’s school in Europe that I describe to Stuart Shanker in this video?