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HBS3AH Work and Health

HBS3AH Work and Health


Mental workload refers to the excessive pressure that arises in most professionals due to fear that they might not meet the expectations and responsibilities placed upon them. In this case, the specific attention will be based on the evaluation of a teacher’s experience in both the primary and secondary level (Macdonald & Miller, 2004). This will be with regards to the potential psychological and biochemical responses that arise from the teaching profession and the demands that worsen the situation (Shen, 2009). The comparative analysis between the two will also help identify the factors that aggravate the stress levels in one more than the other. Looking at this issue by analyzing the different frameworks explaining the causative factors of mental workload will therefore help minimize the adverse effects.

  1. The frameworks that will be used to explain mental workload

Work stress among teachers is a prevalent issue in many parts of the world and in countries such as Hong Kong, there has been a rising record of the number of suicides annually. Today, there are a number of studies among primary and secondary school teachers that are used to investigate the cases of occupational health problems inclusive of mental wellbeing. Below is an explanation of some of the advantageous frameworks in this case.

The structural engineering behind the work

It is important to analyze the component actions behind the fulfillment of various tasks which includes both the formal and informal aspects. This means that looking into the background of the profession as a basis will be the first step (Macdonald & Miller, 2006). This is followed by an overview of reports and other discoveries on the risks of stress experienced by the teaching staff and the findings of the measures in place combating this issue. Further on, understanding the recommendations if any and there effects will help evaluate the extent of the damage and the level of stress in this particular profession.

Collective analysis of personal experience and interactions

Direct interaction with many teachers ensures a better analysis of their personal experiences. In this case, teachers are interviewed and others handed questionnaires which ask particular questions surrounding the teaching experiences, curriculums, the environment, the school administration and the overall understanding of the students (Macdonald & Miller, 2004). In Hong Kong for instance, questionnaires were handed out and a conclusive result showed that the teachers showed an increase in perceived stress levels from 91.6 percent to 97.3 percent in a year. The issues that were raised were time pressure, educational reviews, curriculum reforms, pursuing of further education, family and personal challenges.

Analysis of the work Demands

The primary stressors in most professions are the demands within the work. There are a number of factors that push people to reach certain goals, qualities, and competitive margins. Identifying such demands and subsequent responsibilities therefore, will help understand the potential of mental vulnerability because it will evaluate the employee health and the relation to the said demands (Macdonald, 2003). Aspects leading to limited performance, deteriorating motivation and self-esteem therefore will be the key issues to address and the same that will enable a conclusive and reliable framework in this case.

  1. Factors contributing to the mental workload of a primary and a secondary school teacher.

Table 1: Showing comparative summary of stress factors in a secondary and primary school teacher

Factors Affecting Performance


The margin between the two genders is minimal as the courses taught are relevantly easy for both.

The resultant pressure in both genders is the same but the female teachers experience difficulty in the male dominated courses

Years of Experience

Most teachers are young and new in the field of education hence a lot of pressure to fit in and perform

Many years of experience from the primary level hence more confident and stable

Employment Type

Most employment opportunities are temporary hence constant fear of unemployment

The courses are more stable hence the permanency of most teachers is ascertained.

Work Load

The workload at the primary level is relatively less and manageable

The workload is of much depth hence a lot of work to be done in a limited time

Level of Education

Most teachers are not required degree holders but those that have degrees have a competitive advantage

Most teachers are already degree holders and are seeking further education to outdo their colleagues or achieve better positions in the school

Age of students

Students are below the age of 15 hence easy to manage, correct and handle in class

Most students are in their puberty stages hence numerous distractions and disciplinary cases

The salary is fair in private schools but much less in public schools

The salary is much higher than that of a primary school teacher due to the level of education at this stage

The period is much longer, the courses shorter and the bulk less. This makes it less constrained on the basis of time

The period is shorter, the workload is a lot and time is limited hence a great factor

Psychological Satisfaction

There is not much pride in being a primary school teacher

Considered a higher level in hierarchy and a more prestigious position of a teacher

  1. Why the two jobs have different levels of mental work Load

A primary school teacher is most likely to suffer a higher stress level from the analysis in the table above because of a number of reasons (Abdul, 2011). This is based on the fact that there are numerous sources contributing to this case that are much less than those experienced by a secondary school teacher (Wickens, 2008). Indeed, a secondary school teacher might encounter challenges in a number of areas such as handling adolescent students, having a lot to teach in a considerably short time, the changes of syllabus that may require higher education and the complexity of some courses.

However, the advantageous aspects of permanence of employment, the better salary, the psychological satisfaction of being a secondary school teacher and the level of confidence accrued out ways the negatives (Macdonald & Miller, 2006). On the other hand, a primary school is uncertain of the type of employment due to probable cuts, the ability of one teacher to handle a number of courses and the low salary that may derail advancement (Abdul, 2011). Likewise, due to the low level of education or experience, there is a much lower level of confidence and personal satisfaction which may be huge contributors to the development of stress.

  1. Recommendations to improve stress levels for Primary Teachers

  • Good planning. It is important for a primary school teacher to use their time wisely as the workload is not as tasking (Macdonald & Miller, 2004). This means that the teacher should organize his or her lessons, schedule some time to do relaxing activities and also to pursue the preferred higher education in good time.

  • Financial Stabilization. A primary school teacher’s salary may not be enough to pay for further education and daily costs of living (Abdul, 2011). It is therefore important that the individual seeks a good source of loans or other funding.

  • Avoiding stress triggers. A primary school teacher should move at his or her own pace without comparison with those in higher levels of education (Wickens, 2008). The individual should avoid getting into activities or making drastic decisions that create uncertainty.


In recent years, the plights of teachers have become the most talked about among other professionals and hence important for the government to deliberate and come up with better reforms. The different stress triggers between these two levels of education is evidence enough that the much needed balance and consistency is lacking and that there is a lot that can be done to ameliorate the issues. This research shows that the workload and time barriers may not be the only reasons and that a lot more can be done for the sake of sustainability and improvement of the general learning environment. Good education is the backbone of the future and therefore, the teachers behind this great responsibility ought to enjoy performing their duty to the course.


Abdul S. (2011). Mental Health Status and its Association with the Physical Health Status of Primary School Teachers in the Klang Valley, Malaysia.

Macdonald W. (2006). Workload, performance, health, and well-being: A conceptual framework. In: W. Karwowski W (Ed.), International encyclopedia of ergonomics and human factors (2nd ed., pp.2794-2799). London, England: Taylor & Francis.

Macdonald, W. (2003). The impact of job demands on workload and fatigue. Australian Psychologist, 38(2), 102-117.

Macdonald, W. and Miller, P. (2004). A conceptual framework for workload management, In J. Houdmont & S. McIntyre (Eds.), Occupational health psychology: Key papers of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology, Volume 6, Castelo da Maia: ISMAI Publishers

Shen, Y. E. (April 01, 2009). Relationships between self-efficacy, social support and stress coping strategies in Chinese primary and secondary school teachers. Stress and Health, 25, 2, 129-138.

Wickens, C. D. (2008). Multiple resources and mental workload. Human Factors, 50(3), 449-455.