Mental health and support has become a very prominent issue over the past decade, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic bringing this important issue to the forefront of discussion. All industries and employers across Australia have been forced to re-evaluate their work place policies and procedures to accommodate for the ongoing and alarming growth of mental health based illnesses within their workforce. However, just over 50% of employees believe that their workplace is mentally healthy and only 5 in 10 employees believe that their most senior leader values mental health.
The mental health of employees is important in every sector, but one which is regularly overlooked is the childcare industry. So why is the mental health of childcare educators and teachers important? In this article we’ll break down the 3 key reasons your childcare should be paying more attention to the support of it’s carers.
1. The quality of your care
It goes without saying that mentally unhealthy workplaces impact on employee behaviour. One in five Australians has taken time off work due to stress, anxiety or depression related symptoms in the past 12 months. Aside from the obvious costs to any business of sick days and employee retention and training, the mental health of educators within the childcare sector takes a deeper meaning.
Early Childhood Educators are the foundation of any successful centre. They need to be a carer, a friend, a cleaner, a receptionist, a teacher and much more, all rolled into one. There’s a lot that is expected of educators and to top it all off, they need to be trusted and seen as a reliable source of education by all families in attendance to your childcare.
In short, parents are looking for quality early childhood education and a service that will support their child's physical wellbeing and safety, as well as their child's emotional wellbeing and sense of belonging. If your workers don’t feel supported and their emotional wellbeing isn’t in check, what affect does this have on your childcare community and the quality of your care?
2. The cost to your care
Training new employees is a timely and often expensive exercise and this is why employee retention should be at the top of the priority list for any childcare centre. BeyondBlue found in a recent study that almost fifty per cent of employees have left a workplace due to a poor mental health environment, while 60% of employees working in a mentally healthy workplace were more committed to their job.
Parents trust familiar faces and want their children to form meaningful relationships with their early educators. If your centre is constantly forced to re-staff due to a revolving door of unhappy educators, then the cost to your bottom line could be much more than training.
To bring this point home, a 2014 PwC report found that for every $1 employers spend on successfully implementing effective actions around mental health in the workplace, they gain $2.30 back in benefits. These benefits are through improved productivity, via reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, with fewer compensation claims.
3. Caring for your carers
Childcare is about caring. It’s in the name and it’s in everything your centre offers. Above all things, your interests should lie solely in the healthy and supportive education of children during their influential foundation years. To ensure your children are being given the best quality support and are starting their learning journey the right way, you need to care for your carers.