Author(s): Zimmermann L, Unterbrink T, Pfeifer R, Wirsching M, Rose U,
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Abstract PURPOSE: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the mental health of student teachers, to analyse the extent to which they feel prepared for their profession by the university curriculum and to investigate patterns of coping with occupational stress. METHODS: A sample of 481 German student teachers was investigated using two standardised instruments: GHQ-12 (General Health Questionnaire) and AVEM (Arbeitsbezogenes Verhaltens- und Erlebensmuster), an occupational stress and coping questionnaire describing four patterns of work-related coping behaviour. In addition, we asked how well the student teachers felt that the curriculum prepared them for their profession. RESULTS: Forty-four per cent of the student teachers report impaired mental health in the second teacher training period, indicated by a GHQ value equal to or over the cut-off of four. The AVEM responses revealed more than 40\% showing risk patterns (A or B) compared to only 26.3\% displaying a healthy coping style (G), while 32.8\% demonstrate an unambitious style (S). These GHQ values are inversely correlated with the extent to which student teachers feel prepared for their work by the university curriculum. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate a problematic stress level for student teachers in the second training phase (high exposure to health risks and unfavourable coping styles). Since teaching is clearly an extremely demanding job, it is vital that teacher training systems contribute towards protecting the health of teachers by focusing on fostering healthy personal attitudes and equipping young teachers with coping styles and skills that will better prepare them for the challenges facing them in their daily work. Self-care health management should also be part of the teacher training curriculum.
This article was published in Int Arch Occup Environ Health
and referenced in Journal of Mental Disorders and Treatment