Burnout Syndrome in Teachers: See how these professionals are affected!

7 minutes to read

In the challenging routine of teachers, they need not only to prepare and teach classes, but also to correct work and activities, deal with conflicts, in addition to, often, taking work home and not receiving due recognition. This can lead to the development of occupational diseases such as Burnout Syndrome in teachers.

This syndrome is quite common among these professionals, as they are exposed to several risk factors, such as stress, long working hours and lack of professional recognition. So, it is important to understand this syndrome and make teachers aware so that they pay attention to their routine and seek help when needed.

In this article, we explain about Burnout Syndrome in teachers, showing what this problem is, what the main symptoms are, how it can affect them in the exercise of their profession, among other relevant points. Follow up!

What you will find in this article:

What is Burnout Syndrome?

Burnout Syndrome, a term that means “to burn completely”, is an occupational disease characterized by professional exhaustion. The term was coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger, a psychoanalyst of German origin, referring to a disorder that impairs the ability of a professional to perform their duties properly.

It appears as an emotional response when the individual is subjected to chronic stress, especially in the case of those who deal directly with the public and are emotionally involved with it, such as teachers.

Being subjected to poor working conditions, pressure and overload is also a factor that causes the syndrome, as it prevents professionals from performing their work satisfactorily.

Although it is necessarily linked to work, it also affects other aspects of the lives of affected individuals, impacting not only mental health, but also physical health and social life.

What are the main symptoms?

Burnout Syndrome has three dimensions:

  • emotional exhaustion;
  • depersonalization;
  • low professional achievement.

The disorder can manifest itself in different ways, unfolding from each of these dimensions. The affected teacher usually:

  • if you feel exhausted or drained of energy, even if you rest;
  • mentally distance yourself from work;
  • perform your work ineffectively or with poor quality;
  • miss work;
  • have difficulty sleeping;
  • lack of appetite;
  • feeling tense, anxious, fatigued, depressed, lethargic, and irritable;
  • away from the people you live with, having problems in relationships with family and friends;
  • having trouble concentrating;
  • having pessimistic thoughts, believing that you cannot do anything to improve your situation, which leads you to become disinterested in the work.

What is the incidence of Burnout Syndrome in teachers?

According to a survey carried out in 2017 at the University of Brasília (UnB), 15.7% of elementary school teachers interviewed developed the syndrome. It may seem like a small portion, but several of them had one of the three main symptoms.

In addition, almost a third of the professors (29.8%) had a high level of emotional exhaustion, 14% had cases of high depersonalization and 31.2% experienced feelings of low professional fulfillment.

In 2020, during the pandemic, another survey was conducted with teachers by the Center for Teachers of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (CPERS-Sindicato), showing alarming numbers of teachers subjected to factors capable of triggering the Burnout Syndrome. This study draws attention for revealing a situation that can be experienced by professors across the country today.

According to the survey, 98% of the participating teachers were overloaded at work without being paid extra for overtime, facing delays in salaries and feeling physically and psychologically exhausted, with insomnia and feelings of anxiety, sadness and uncertainty.

How can it affect teachers in the exercise of their profession?

Some of the consequences of Burnout Syndrome in teachers affect physical and mental health and impair quality of life. Thus, they can often be absent from work because they are sick and perform their functions with less quality.

This occurs both because of lack of interest and because they are not able to handle so many demands, in addition to the fact that teachers have a troubled relationship with colleagues and students.

How can school help to avoid it?

In the UnB survey, other data was also raised: 28.1% of teachers felt that they did not have peer support and 25.2% that they did not have support from their heads. It’s interesting to consider this aspect, as it shows a gap in something that can help them overcome—or avoid—the Burnout Syndrome.

One of the first steps is to raise awareness of the problem, fostering healthy discussions between teachers and other school professionals. By talking about it, they can notice symptoms and support each other in the face of challenges such as overload and working conditions.

It is also important to encourage teachers to seek psychological treatment when necessary. An interesting alternative would be to have a professional at the school to listen to them when they feel the need.

Furthermore, it is essential that schools offer good working conditions. For this, the main thing is to avoid overcrowded rooms, provide adequate equipment and materials to support them in carrying out their duties, prevent them from accumulating functions and encourage them to manage their time better.

Thinking about well-being and quality of life, it is possible for the school to create a pleasant and positive environment, stimulating, for example, debate, the exchange of ideas and the practice of physical activities. Thus, they keep you healthy and relieve some stress.

How does the treatment work?

In the case of teachers who have already developed the syndrome, it is essential to have professional help and undergo medical examinations to find out what is the best treatment. Depending on the symptoms, which are quite varied, it may be necessary, in addition to counseling with a psychologist, to consult other specialists to treat the physical manifestations of Burnout.

It is also necessary to treat and map all physical and psychological symptoms, as each individual has its own characteristics and not all are affected in the same way by Burnout Syndrome. It is also recommended that professionals affected by the syndrome carry out, in their free time, activities that allow them to take time away from work.

In addition, it is important to understand which aspects of the work generate discomfort and dissatisfaction, as this is what allows effective changes to be made to resolve the situation. After all, the environment needs to be changed so that the professional can feel calm and satisfied at work again.

Burnout Syndrome in teachers is an extremely serious problem and must be treated seriously in school. In addition, it is important that professors are encouraged to seek specialized help if they suffer from this problem, in order to receive adequate treatment.

Do you know any teacher who suffered from Burnout Syndrome? Do you have any tips to share on the subject? Let us know in the comments!

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