Home Mental Health & Well-Being Moderate Workplace Mental Health Among Educators Calls for Systemic Support and Cultural Change

Moderate Workplace Mental Health Among Educators Calls for Systemic Support and Cultural Change

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A recent study conducted at Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Iran has found that the overall mental health status of educators is moderate. This mixed-method study explored both quantitative and qualitative aspects to understand the factors influencing occupational mental health from the educators’ perspective. The research highlights the need for improved support systems and structural changes within academic institutions to enhance the mental well-being of their staff. The findings were published in the journal BMC Medical Education.

The study involved 205 educators from various academic ranks and departments within the university, including schools of medicine, nursing, public health, paramedical sciences, pharmacy, and dentistry. Using the Workplace Mental Health Questionnaire, which comprises 37 items across nine categories, researchers assessed the mental health status of participants. The categories include the opportunity to control, use skills, external goals, environmental diversity, environmental clarity, access to money, physical security, contact with others, and valuable social status.

Results indicated a mean mental health score of 115.87 out of a possible 185, suggesting a moderate level of mental health among educators. The highest median score was in the domain of “opportunity for control” with a median of 4, while the lowest was in “opportunity to contact others” with a median of 2.75​​.

The qualitative phase involved semi-structured interviews with 21 educators, providing deeper insights into the factors affecting their mental health. Two main themes emerged: “contrast between preferences and disappointments in the development path” and “induced demotivation of system elements.”

The first theme highlighted the gap between educators’ aspirations for professional growth and the reality of their work environment. Many educators expressed a desire for creative advancement and staying updated with developments in their field. However, systemic challenges, such as cultural barriers and lack of support for professional growth, often led to disappointment and frustration.

The second theme, “induced demotivation of system elements”, focused on the negative impact of an unhealthy psychological environment and unprofessionalism within the university. Factors such as job stress, resource constraints, lack of managerial support, ingratitude, and the absence of a reward-effort matching mechanism were identified as major stressors. Educators reported feeling undervalued and unsupported, contributing to their overall moderate mental health status​​.

The study found that cultural challenges and non-adherence to professional standards significantly impacted the mental health of educators. At the personal level, issues such as non-compliance with well-being and excellence principles were noted. Interpersonally, the lack of respect and justice further exacerbated mental health issues.

System-level factors included job stress, a resilient yet unyielding culture, insufficient managerial support, and a lack of resources. The combination of these factors created a challenging work environment that hindered the mental health of educators​​.

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