Ricky Batten

5 mental health tips for expat teachers in Thailand

Mental health tips to help you cope with the pandemic and get better.

It’s been a hard time for expat teachers as the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers on in Thailand. 

My expat friends who are teachers and international school clients have mentioned that their mental health has suffered a lot in general. At first, they thought that things would pass by quickly, but it soon turned out to be quite a life-changing event. Many international schools are still closed, and some are assessing their plans to reopen by the end of the year, if not by next year. But when precisely all schools open remains unknown.

Currently, expat teachers continue to teach online, which has its pros and cons. The main advantage is that teachers can continue following their curriculum, and students can reach out to their teachers at any time. But teaching online has come at the expense of the teacher's mental health, as noted by my clients. An increasing number of expat teachers are suffering from stress and anxiety as they are constantly online. When considering it’s already been at least six months, some expat teachers have seen their stress and anxiety levels translate into burnout and even depression. 

Personally, I am really concerned for them as burnout and depression are commonly experienced in the corporate world. So to see them suffering to this extent worries me a lot about their abilities to treat their mental health issues. Hence, I’d like to share some of my top mental health tips to help expat teachers get through this period of doubt and uncertainty. If you feel the same, then discover my 5 mental health tips below!

Set aside (me) time to unwind

This is easier said than done for teachers, but it’s essential to give yourself time to relax and recharge. Whenever I get tired or slightly stressed, I grab my golf clubs and head to the nearest golf course. Setting time to spend doing what you want can certainly help you unwind. Although your teaching schedule might be busy, it’s vital to program in time for yourself and relax. Take it from someone who advises dozens of expats on their health insurance policies every day in Thailand!

Plan and reap the rewards

A standard tip but one worth mentioning every time to improve mental health. Planning is essential to your success and, therefore, your students. You will see good results by listing out your teachings and creating an effective plan to pass those teachings on to your students. 

Also, having a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it religiously. You should be flexible in your abilities to teach, as well as how and when you teach. Since many of your students are at home, their conditions and environment may not favor them. A tip I like to offer expat teachers is to schedule a meeting with their pupils. This way, you ask them relevant questions about your curriculum, as well as their preferences. After which, you can gather feedback and adjust your plan to ensure your curriculum fits in as best as possible with the needs of your students. 

Set boundaries for everything

As you are teaching online, you will often find that time passes quickly, which can be good. But you may find that it overlaps with other things you need to tend to other than yourself, like family and household chores. One easy way to create boundaries is by paying particular attention to how you feel during your daily activities and listening to subtle cues that may tell you that something isn’t quite working out for you. 

Another way is to create a “student help period” so that you have dedicated time to support your students beyond the classroom time fully. If possible, try to shield your weekends so that you can fully recover and prepare for the following week. Whatever you do, from having a tech-free period before bed or committing to a 1-hour lunch break for you and your students at noon, make sure you adhere to those boundaries. As a teacher, you will feel mentally better and have better control over your activities, emotions, and performance.

Acquire new skills to keep you motivated

Being at home is great (if you have air-conditioning and a patch of grass to lounge on, that is), but going through the same routine can cause you to feel somewhat depressed. From my point of view, being at home and teaching online can be made more enjoyable by learning new skills in your spare time. Perhaps learning how to cook Thai food and sharing your experience with your students can create a positive discussion about keeping healthy with home-cooked food. 

You could even branch out and improve your tech skills, such as by learning how to use Adobe Illustrator to boost your online teachings with appealing and trendy illustrations. Who knows, you could inspire your students to do the same and motivate them in the process.

Seek mental health support if needed

Did you know mental health issues should be treated the same as physical health issues? Therefore, if you find yourself stressing and/or feeling depressed about the COVID-19 situation in Thailand, get mental health support as soon as possible. Luckily, most of my international school clients have a health insurance plan that offers telemedicine services. 

So depending on the insurer and whether you have this benefit, you can easily reach out to a mental health specialist to advise and treat your mental health issues. Of course, this happens from the safety and comfort of your home.  

Want to learn more about mental health tips or health insurance? Reach out for a chat today!

I hope you enjoyed reading my mental health tips and feeling slightly, if not ultimately, better. As a health insurance advisor, I usually come across many expats and clients asking about mental health issues and how to protect themselves. So if you want to learn more about the mental health situation in Thailand or about expat health insurance, you’re more than welcome to reach out to me at ajarn@pacificprime.co.th or contact my team at Pacific Prime Thailand.


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