“But at what cost?” Mental health report

Pandemic Research Report

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF/FCE) pandemic research report, “But at what cost?” Teacher mental health during COVID-19, captures first-hand accounts and an in-depth understanding of living through a pandemic as a teacher during the 2020-2021 school year. The collected narratives from the interviews reveal how and why various aspects of their professional lives contributed to a decline in mental health.

Notable findings

  • 97% of participants stated they experienced increased physical, mental, and emotional workload, and job demands during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • The deteriorating mental health of Canadian public-school teachers has been caused in part by increased workload, uncertainty, and inadequate support from school, boards/districts, and Ministry leadership.
  • Teachers are being pulled in multiple directions and are, due to both the mounting demands and growing digital connectivity, increasingly always “on”.
  • Teachers are collectively experiencing an omnipresent sense of emergency, uncertainty and crisis, which has reached a point of unsustainability.
  • Education workers are putting their students’ needs and concerns above their own, with 81% of interview participants citing student success as their top concern.

Over 2,300 teachers from the October 2020 Teacher Mental Health Check-in Survey volunteered to be contacted for a follow-up interview, and 110 teachers were recruited from the CTF/FCE’s 18 Member and Associate Organizations. A total of 32 open-ended, semi-structured interviews were conducted in both official languages from February 20 – April 4, 2021.

Podcast: A Conversation on Pan-Canadian Teacher Mental Health During COVID-19

(Podcast in English only with transcript, as well as English and French highlights one-pager).

This special edition podcast, with Dr. Pamela Rogers, CTF/FCE Director of Research and Professional Learning, and Nichole Grant, Researcher and Policy Analyst, unpacks the report’s key findings. It also delves into the professional and personal realities facing teachers and education workers throughout the pandemic. President Sam Hammond also outlines what needs to happen next at the national level to address this national mental health crisis.

For more information, please visit our podcast webpage.