A new study in Educational Researcher examines US Teachers’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Using a large national data set, the current study compares mental health outcomes during the pandemic between pre-K–12 teachers and professionals in other occupations. Further, we compare the prevalence of mental health outcomes between in-person and remote teachers (N = 134,693). Findings indicate that teachers reported a greater prevalence of anxiety symptoms than did those in other professions and that remote teachers reported significantly higher levels of distress than did those teaching in person

A few thoughts

  • It’s great to see more data in this area, on a topic that is of nterest and importance to many
  • The data source is interesting: a daily survey of a random sample of Facebook users.
  • The data were  repurposed to study the topic, which is a wonderful example of how large-scale surveys can fulfill multiple needs, but points to salient issues around definitions that may muddy our understanding of the results. e.g.,  “The distinction between in-person and remote modality is made by using each respondent’s answer to the survey question of whether they had worked outside their home during that same period”
  • This is an important finding to delve more into: “relative to teachers, healthcare workers (odds ratio [OR] = 0.70, d = −0.20)…were significantly less likely to report anxiety symptoms..[and] less likely to report depression symptoms (OR = 0.95, d = −0.03) and feelings of isolation (OR = 0.96, d = −0.02), although we note that the effect sizes may be considered “small.” “
  • Always worth emphasizing: “Notably, the cross-sectional nature of the data precludes any comparison of baseline measures of pre-pandemic mental health outcomes to current measures”
  • The study does not state or suggest a causal relationship between remote education and teacher mental health, but this is the kind of study that those who believe that such a relationship exists may refer to make that claim. TBD.