Hyderabad, November 10 (Rahnuma) Leave policies of many schools, organisations include sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, compassionate leave and even bereavement leave. But does it include mental health sick leave?
City’s educators want “Stress Leave” or “Stress Holiday” on the lines of “Sick Leave”. The teaching landscape is going through revolutionary changes. Educators feel that they are under a tremendous amount of pressure. The community which had to deal with students only in the past has now to deal with parents as well. Constant monitoring, tremendous pressure to deliver results, traveling back and forth, all adding up to a tremendous amount of pressure opined many top school principals at a just-concluded unique educators forum called ‘VIHAAN INDIAN IN 2040’. City’s top principals from 115 top schools assembled here in the city at Hotel Vivanta at Begumpet this weekend for the Forum meeting organized by SIP Academy. The theme of the conference was “how to develop skills in children to make India a true global leader by 2040”
While sharing their ideas on how to develop skills in children to make India a truly a global leader by the year 2040, many principals felt that they were underpaid.
Mr Skand Bali, the Principal of The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet said, the Pre-primary school teachers who were supposed to be paid more than any other teachers are not paid adequately. Handling pre-primary classes is tougher than handling 10th, 11th and 12th grades he said.
Speaking on ‘what are top schools in India doing to develop relevant skills in children to make India a global power by 2040?’, Mr Skand Bali opined that women teachers struggle harder than their male counterparts. It is them who put long hours of work as they do their routine household chores, travel to school, perform their professional duties and then go back and again perform their role as a homemaker in their respective homes. They are more stress-prone than their male colleagues. They need more rest. Singapore has “Mental Health Day”. Teachers and Students there decide whether or not to go to school on that particular day. The school does function normally. It is the individuals who decided to go or not.
It is true, teachers now experience stress at some point during their careers said V. Pallavi, a former teacher, Psychologist and independent Counselor. They certainly deserve an extra leave, maybe once a month as “Stress Relief Leave” on the lines of Sick Leave.
Teachers need more rest than students if they have to come out without of box thinking to match the expectations of the school management and parents to deliver a good performance. They can’t work under pressure for a long time. I feel that we are allowed to take at least one day in a month as “Stress Relief Holiday” for better productivity. I strongly recommend this shared Ms Anupama, Principal of Gateway International High School.
Jayasree, another Principal from DPSS, Aminpura echoed the same sentiment. All of us deal with lots of job stress. Teachers have to be well prepared every day. Many people think that teachers have good working schedules, but teachers take a lot more of their work home with them than other professionals. Student behavioral problems, standardized testing, and unstable school leadership, demanding parents, travel to school and back all add up to our stress levels. It will be a good idea if we are allowed to relax for a day as a day for stress relief, she said.
Teachers are the shapers of future generations. Teaching is the only profession that makes all the professions. A teacher has to be a constant learner. A teacher has to be way ahead of students in embracing technology, update their knowledge levels. All these need to invest in time, energy and effort. Then there is constant pressure for delivery, exams, valuation, student parents meetings, project, field visits, on the job training. All these are too much for teachers to handle.
Though we have lot of holidays compared to many other professions, they are justified. Additionally at least one day in a month if allowed to be a Stress Relief Holiday, it will help us to rejuvenate and come back to duties with more energy said Ms Kavitha, Principal of Vignan School, at ECIL
Mental health is just as important as physical illness. We seek medical attention and treatment for any form of physical illness or disease, but why do we neglect mental illness? That is why it is justified in asking an extra leave for our mental health said another teacher who doesn’t want to be identified.
Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. Like Gyms for fitness in India, there are Brain Gyms in the west to handle their mental stress. But, we don’t have such a luxury here added another principal.
When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. This ensures us to be more creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. So leave for mental health is most sought-after opined many principals and teachers.
Encouraging employees to take their mental health leave can benefit schools immensely. It improves mood, increases productivity. Taking a ‘mental health holiday’ must be our right something similar to sick leave. If you just need some time off to unwind and de-stress, it is a must that we have a leave. We need to rethink towards this direction, shared couple of other teachers assembled at the conference. School leadership should focus on the emotional well-being of teachers and enable them to take time out to seek help for mental health issues.