Nearly five in 10 teachers are nervous about school this year, according to new research

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Working in a pandemic is pushing teachers to the brink — more than half have considered switching careers over the last 18 months, according to new research. 

A recent survey of 2,002 respondents, which included 1,006 K-12 teachers, suggests that the mental health of America's educators is in crisis. 

In fact, 80% of K-12 teachers said that 2020 was the most stressful year of their careers, compared to 71% of those who aren't teachers.  

And while many teachers are excited about the return to the classroom, 49% described themselves as "nervous" about this school year. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vida Health, the survey also revealed that only 38% of teachers have successfully sought out professional mental health support in the last 18 months, while another 14% said they tried to get support without success. 

When asked what word they'd used to describe their mental state over the past year, 55% of K-12 teachers said "stressed," making it the most popular answer. 

That stress was likely caused by worry over the pandemic, with "health and safety concerns" listed as the factor most likely to impact their mental health (44%).

Another 36% believe that managing their own children's virtual learning also played a significant role in their mental struggles, and 32% cited the stress of virtual teaching overall.

Of those who didn't seek mental health assistance during the last 18 months, more teachers (43%) felt they were equipped to handle their issues by themselves, compared to 30% of non-educators who said the same thing.

"K-12 teachers typically can't just pop out in the middle of their workday to go see a therapist," said Chris Mosunic, PhD Chief Clinical Officer at Vida Health. "So virtual therapy can be particularly helpful to them. In fact, during the pandemic, we saw that teachers enrolled in virtual mental health and therapy programs at a higher rate than any other profession."

On top of these internal struggles, teachers also worry about making sure their mental health doesn't interfere with their ability to teach.

Sixty-seven percent said their students can recognize when they're having a bad day.

Nearly two in five teachers will mentally "check out" when dealing with internal conflicts (38%), while another two in five confessed to giving less engaging lessons.

"Even coming out of last year, most teachers and schools aren't set up to instruct their students completely virtually," continued Mosunic. "Just about every solution currently available is going to be sub-par compared to teaching students in person. But in-person instruction comes with its own challenges, which is putting additional strain on the mental health of our educators. We need to provide our teachers with not only the best chance to succeed in the classroom but also the best chance to thrive outside of it."

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