Psychological research provided empirical evidence about job stress manifestations. High-level job stress could manifest mental and psychosomatic diseases among employees.Scheuch, Haufe, and Seibt (2015) performed a meta-analysis to review teachers’ occupational health in Germany. This study was conducted using a selective review of the literature and data derived from the German statutory health insurance scheme concerning medical disability, long-term illness, and the inability to work among teachers.
In this study, Scheuch et al. concluded that “mental and psychosomatic diseases are more common in teachers than in non-teachers” (p. 347). Among many of the variables affecting teachers’ occupational health, the psycho-emotional stress is the dominating factor. As seen in the literature reviewed by Scheuch et al., teachers had consistently rated their job stress as high to very high. Salient stress factors reported by teachers themselves were time pressure, long working hours, over-crowded classrooms, noise in school, conflicts with school authorities, and lack of autonomy in decision-making (Scheuch et al., 2015). Also common were stressors from students’ behavioral issues and problematic behavior by students’ parents (Scheuch et al., 2015).
Teaching is a high-demanding job often performed in complex, non-transparent workplace. Job characteristics that escalate teachers’ stress include divided attention, inadequate recovery during the teaching day, unpredictable situations, and situation-related change of behavior patterns in teaching (Scheuch et al., 2015). Teachers also reported stress induced from different evaluation criteria used by students, parents, school authorities, and the public, being a lone voice in the bureaucratic system, and intrusion of work into free time (Scheuch et al., 2015).
Elevated stress, if not properly dealt with, would impact on teachers’ health. In multiple studies, the dominant psychosomatic problems with teachers of high-level stress were identified as constant fatigue, headaches, tension, low energy, insomnia, concentration disorder, inner restlessness, and increased irritability (Scheuch et al., 2015). With the understanding of job characteristics and health risks in the teaching profession, qualified occupational health care services should be tailored to the particular nature of teaching (Scheuch et al., 2015). Scheuch et al. recommended that teachers’ occupational health should be addressed by a network of experts including psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychosomatic specialists in addition to primary care physicians.
Scheuch, K., Haufe, E., & Seibt, R. (2015). Teachers’ health. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 112(20), 347-356. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2015.0347