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Teacher stress leads to mental disorders

Date Posted: 2006-08-03

Okinawa school teachers are becoming sick at an alarming rate, and stress in the classroom is being defined as a primary cause.

The Prefecture Board of Education says the number of teachers leaving the classroom in increasing, with 293 teachers absent from school last year. It says 40% of the teachers were suffering from mental disease or sickness. “We don’t know why so many mental diseases are affecting teachers,” says an education official, “but we must find out quickly why, and break down the reasons in order to make things well.”

In 1992, only 15% of the teacher absences were attributed to mental diseases, with 199 teachers suffering. Three years later, the mental issues increased to 20%, then to 30% in 2002. “The reason why teachers are sick, we can’t understand,” says the Prefecture Education Section Director.

He says the Board suspects “teachers have problems in each class, because between children and parents there’s little time to get along with the students.” The official says “a lot of stress is coming out, and today’s children are more complicated to take care of and more difficult to understand.”

The Board of Education is appealing to parents to help the teachers, and to give them support. “They need more help,” he says, “ to provide proper support for the children. Children are the property of the social world, and not only parents.”

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