This post links and follows on from my previous post, ‘When the going gets tough’.
Some say our ability to cope with stress and pressure is based on what we experienced and learnt when we were young; what was modelled to us and strategies and habits that we adopted as a result. Some say it relates to our awareness of our inner-self, positive self-worth and acceptance, unconditionally, of our value in relation to others. Some people link it with philosophies and belief systems/faith – our purpose in life and belonging. Some suggest genetic dispositions. Work life balance is something key to factor in too and the quality of meaningful relationships we enjoy with others.
I am no expert and do not claim to know or understand all the ins and outs of mental resilience. No doubt there are a number of factors that come into play in our ability to cope and that these vary between each person, as everyone is an individual and unique. I guess one of the complications is that we do not always realise that someone has moved from a healthy level of stress to no longer coping.
Within the work environment I have no doubt that the degree to which people feel valued, supported, included in decisions, able to innovate and be creative will play a strong part in how they handle stress. The school work ethic for staff, whether defined or perceived – timescales and volume of work to be undertaken again will be powerful factors. In isolation, the general statement that line managers are there to help and staff should see them if someone has concerns or worries is insufficient.
I think there is a need for more training in relation to this so that people are more aware of possible trigger factors and develop greater mental resilience/a range of strategies so that they can cope and seek support. I think training is needed at all levels: teacher training, newly qualified teachers, middle managers and heads. It is something we can all include in INSET for our staff and incorporate in an age appropriate way for pupils. It could be included within e.g. LEA and Professional Association courses as well as NPQH training.