Record Teacher Turnover Tied to Lack of Mental Health Training

Student mental health is steadily becoming one of the top issues schools are facing across the US, and teachers are lacking in the mental health training to address it. It’s also a key factor directly tied to the teacher turnover rate, which is at an all-time high.

Importance of Teachers and School Staff

Now more than ever, teachers hold one of the most important jobs available. Not only are they expected to properly educate our youth, but they simultaneously help shape the future citizens of our country. That’s a pretty hefty task to take on, which is why it’s so disappointing that teachers are some of the most undervalued, unsupported and underpaid professionals in today’s society.

The role of a teacher has always been significant, however the current landscape involves even more stress than it did several years ago. With challenges like increased gun violence and more students struggling with mental health issues each year due to the mental health crisis in schools, teachers are stretched thin with lack of proper training and little to no support.

Teachers vs. Stress: Teachers with Higher Stress Levels than Doctors

The level of stress that teachers deal with is increasing every year. In fact, teachers’ stress levels have been reported to be even higher than that of doctors. Several concerns leading to stress for teachers include a poor work environment, increasing job demands, declining autonomy and inadequate social and emotional competence.

As you can imagine, this high level of consistent stress can take a physical toll on teachers, impacting their health and well-being. 51% of teachers are diagnosed with poor sleep quality and 46% are diagnosed with excessive sleepiness. The number of teachers who experience burnout is worrisome.

A work-life survey done in 2017 consisted of 3.2 million full-time equivalent (FTE) K-12 teachers throughout the US. Of the 3.2 million, 1.86 million described their mental health as “not good”. In the same study, 61% of the teachers disclosed that they were “always” or “often” faced with high-stress situations over a 30-day period.

Almost half of all new teachers across the nation will abandon their profession within the first five years. Directly related to the skyrocketing teacher turnover rate is inadequate preparation and lack of training when it comes to student mental health.

Teacher Stress: Negative Impact on Students and Teachers

When teachers are stressed, unhealthy and burnt out, it naturally affects their ability to teach and provide support for their students. This, in turn, negatively impacts student outcomes. A survey of over 78,000 students across 160 schools showed that high teacher engagement correlates with higher levels of student engagement and improved academic achievement.

Not only does high turnover debilitate student performance, but according to the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, high turnover is costing U.S. schools $7.3 billion in losses each year.

In Jeffrey Benson’s article, When Teacher Self-Care Is Not Enough, he argues that teachers “need better structures to sustain teachers who work with students with mental illnesses.”

He goes on to share his personal experience when it comes to helping students who struggle with mental health. He claims that he and his colleagues found themselves improvising and trying anything that they could think of to help students. It began to feel nearly impossible for the teachers to deal with and they had to seek support from each other due to the lack of professional support.

While the number of teachers who are trained to deal with mental health is diminishing, the number of students with mental health is rapidly growing.

  • 49 states report shortages in Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) and special education teachers.
  • 51% of school districts in America report it to be challenging to attract qualified special education teachers.
  • This can result in underqualified teachers entering classrooms, which can also be very detrimental to student outcomes and success.

High teacher turnover and teacher stress negatively impact students’ well-being and development and can exacerbate already existing student mental health issues.

Scientific Breakthroughs Mean Higher Demand for Teachers with Mental Health Training

New discoveries in cognitive science are being made all the time as medical professionals are able to recognize more subtle symptoms of various conditions. This has resulted in an increase in mental health diagnoses.

These findings are incredibly valuable, but unfortunately teachers aren’t receiving proper training and education when it comes to student mental health and how to handle it. Many teachers find it extremely difficult to keep up with the ever-growing demands of paperwork, grading, teaching and other daily tasks. They rarely have time to stay informed about the latest psychology and mental health news, especially without a support system that encourages this.

Training is Necessary for Teacher Well-Being and Student Advancement

According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 55% of district survey respondents reported receiving six hours or less of annual training. The recommended amount of annual training is 14-21 hours. When teachers do receive training most of it involves classroom management and legal requirements, with very little to no focus on student mental health.

76% of IBCCES’ survey respondents reported that certification and training are the most important factors in the success of their districts’ top educators. Other than classroom experience, certification and training proved to be the most valued qualities a teacher can possess. The majority of administrators are turning to online training as their preferred method for teachers. Not only is it effective, but the online aspect saves school districts time and money.

Student Mental Health Certification and Training: The Solution for Schools

After extensive research, IBCCES has put together an online training and certification program to prepare educators to face the student mental health crisis. The Student Mental Health Specialist (SMHS) training and Student Mental Health Certification (SMHC) programs were designed by a board of experts and top educators to address some of the most pressing issues involving mental health. These include ADHD, anxiety, depression, behavior modifications, suicide, IEP and program development, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, OCD and traumatic brain injury.

The SMHS and SMHC programs can become a part of your schools’ teacher retention strategy.

Who is it for?

Student Mental Health Specialist (SMHS):

  • Special Education Directors
  • Student Services Directors
  • Principals & Assistant Principals
  • Behavior Specialists
  • Special & General Education Teachers
  • Deans/Disciplinary Staff
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Occupational Therapists

Student Mental Health Certification (SMHC):

  • General Education Teachers
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Administrative Personnel
  • Support Staff
  • Behavior Specialists
  • School Nurse
  • Secretary

How it Works

The certification process consists of six steps:

  1. Apply online
  2. Complete online training program
  3. Certification exam
  4. IBCCES verification
  5. Board approval
  6. Certification issued

Benefits to Mental Health Training and Certification with IBCCES

Educators who complete the training and certification will be capable of providing students and their families support and resources to reinforce a positive school environment and experience.

Along with access to best practices and top research, teachers will complete the program feeling confident to deal with student mental health issues. Educators will feel prepared, reducing teacher turnover.

A strong support system for educators, improved student outcomes and a safe classroom setting are just a few more benefits schools can expect from the training and certification.

The teacher turnover rate can be reversed. The programs that IBCCES offers can provide the support, education and preparation that teachers need in order to thrive in their professions and make a lasting, positive impression on the lives of their students.

Make an impact today.


Learn More About Student Mental Health Certifications

Fill out form below to find out more about SMHC and SMHS programs

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