Emotional Experiences as Predictors of Teachers' Mental Health
Keywords:teachers, emotions, emotional exhaustion, mental health, psychopathological symptoms
AbstractTeaching profession is considered emotionally demanding since teachers experience a variety of positive and negative emotions of significant intensity at work. Emotions they experience in relation to their professional activities can affect their professional and personal development. Frequent experiences of teachers' negative emotions in relation to students, parents, colleagues or educational system in general as well as feelings of emotional exhaustion (as an important aspect of burnout), can have a negative impact on teachers' psychological well-being and increase the occurrence of psychopathological symptoms. The aim of this study was to examine the role of emotions (experienced in relation to students, parents, and educational system) and emotional exhaustion in explaining symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatization among teachers. The study was conducted on a sample of 1149 subject-specific elementary school teachers from different regions in Croatia. A total of 210 male and 939 female teachers, aged between 24 and 65, participated in the study. Considering the expected gender differences in the prevalence of psychopathological symptoms, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted separately on the subsamples of male and female teachers. Results showed that, after controlling for working experience (which explains the somatization symptoms), certain emotions (exhaustion, love, anger, and hopelessness experienced in relation to students; anxiety experienced in relation to parents; and disappointment with educational system) and emotional exhaustion significantly explain the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatization among teachers. The obtained results emphasise the importance of emotional exhaustion, which results from daily stressors and pressures at work, in explaining psychopathological outcomes in the teaching profession.