This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of
Hutchison SM, Watts A, Gadermann A, Oberle E, Oberlander TF, Lavoie PM, Mâsse LC. School staff and teachers during the second year of COVID-19: Higher anxiety symptoms, higher psychological distress, and poorer mental health compared to the general population. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. 2022 Mar 17. doi: 10.1016/j.jadr.2022.100335.
The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.
New results from a CITF-funded study led by University of British Columbia researchers Drs. Pascal Lavoie and Louise Mâsse, and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports indicates that 18.7% of school staff in Vancouver reported moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety. This rate is significantly higher than that of Canadian adults (15%) surveyed during a similar period (February to May 2021). The study also found that 5.8% of school staff reported an elevated degree of psychological distress – a higher rate than among Canadian adults pre-pandemic (between 1.6% and 3%). While most Canadian elementary and high schools switched from in-person to virtual learning for parts of the 2020-21 academic year, Vancouver schools stayed open the entire time. As frontline workers, teachers’ mental health were impacted during the pandemic.
- Among school staff surveyed in Vancouver between February and June 2021, 18.7% reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms1. This rate is higher than that of Canadian adults (15%) surveyed during a similar period (February to May 2021).
- 8% of school staff reported an elevated degree of psychological distress1 – a higher rate than reported psychological distress among Canadian adults pre-pandemic (between 1.6% and 3%).
- When asked, “How would you rate your mental health?” with response options ranging from poor to excellent on a five-point scale, 15.7% of school staff reported poor or fair mental health.
- Being female and younger (18 to 24 years old) were significantly associated with higher levels of anxiety and psychological distress among school staff.
- Frequent in-person contact with students (i.e., more than 20 hours/week) was significantly associated with higher levels of anxiety symptoms among school staff.
These findings stem from a seroprevalence study of 2,305 Vancouver elementary and secondary school staff. In-person schooling continued throughout the 2020-2021 academic year in British Columbia, with some high school students occasionally learning virtually about 25% of the time.
Check out the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s hub for tips on supporting mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic at work and at home: https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/covid19/.
1 Validated assessment tools were used to measure symptoms of generalized anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder assessment (GAD-7)) and psychological distress (Kessler psychological distress scale (K6)).