Psychological well–being, race and school setting : a comparative study among South African teachers in the SABPA study
Teaching is a stressful occupation. Teacher stress can be described as the experiences by teachers of psychological distress such as anxiety, depression and nervousness and languishing, resulting from aspects of their workload and school setting. Stress manifests itself in various ways including psychological, emotional, and social changes. Teachers demonstrate individual discrepancies in their responses to stressors. South Africa is as a multicultural environment with previously segregated school settings based on race. Research revealed that it is possible that the functionality of schools, usually related to school setting, has implications for the psychological well-being of teachers. As comparative study between group White teacher-Black teacher data are limited, this study analysed aspects of psychological well-being to show that race, associated with school setting, can be pervasive determinate of positive mental health. The current study, which is a secondary analysis of the Sympathetic Activity and Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Africans (SABPA) 2008-2009 data, aimed at explaining the similarities and differences by identifying aspects most likely to influence psychological well-being between a White teacher group and a Black teacher group in the North West Province in South Africa. One research question was formulated to reach the purpose of the research and is: How does the psychological well-being of Black and White teachers in different school settings in the North West Province in the South African context compare? A sample consisting of White (208) and Black (200) teachers completed the Mental Health Continuum – Short Form (MHC-SF; Keyes, 2002) to measure positive mental health: the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9; Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001) to measure depression, the Fortitude Questionnaire (FORQ: Pretorius, 1998) to measure social support, and the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI, Boyle, Borg, Falzon, & Baglioni Jr., 1995) during the SABPA study. Data from various self-reported psychological questionnaires completed by the two teacher groups were included and analysed by means of bivariate correlations of the two teacher groups, t-test comparisons, cross tabulations of categories of positive mental health as well as of depression, and multiple regression. Significant associations were found for the following: teacher stress related to general resources (TSI), teacher stress related to teaching and classroom management (TSI), positive self-appraisal, social support from family, social support from friends and others (FORQ), emotional well-being, and psychological well-being (MHC), for both the White and Black teacher groups. According to regression analysis, in the White teacher group, 11.9% of total variance in teacher stress was accounted for by depression while positive metal health explained 7% of teacher stress. For the Black teacher group, only 2.4% of the total variance of teacher stress was explained by depression and 0.1% by positive mental health. The conclusion is that all teachers experience stress and depression, but according to these results, the effect of stress on well-being seems to be higher among the White group. Although the Black teachers report higher levels of stress, they flourish. In closing, from this comparative study, it was recommended that data between resource availability and school setting pertaining to White-Black teacher groups matched by psychological well-being need to be obtained. Much needed consideration should be given to the development of interventions that explore aspects of psychological well-being of teachers in different school settings. Furthermore, cultural background in the school setting that contributes towards psychological well-being should be considered and applied to guide interventions in the North West Province in South Africa.
- Humanities