Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Reducing Teachers' Psychological Distress through a Mindfulness Training Program

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Reducing Teachers' Psychological Distress through a Mindfulness Training Program

Article excerpt

Teachers constitute one of the professional collectives most affected by psychological problems. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study is to examine the efficacy of a mindfulness training programme to reduce psychological distress in a group of teachers. The sample comprised 68 teachers of Secondary School Education, from various public schools; half of them formed the experimental group, and the another half the control group. The levels of psychological distress were measured, in both groups, by the Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R) before and after the application of the programme. Statistical analysis shows the significant reduction of three general measures of psychological distress (Global Severity Index, Positive Symptom Distress Index, and Positive Symptom Total), as well in all its dimensions (somatization, obsessive-compulsive, interpersonal sensibility, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobic anxiety, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism), in the experimental group compared with the control group. Follow-up measures show that these results were maintained for four months after termination of the intervention in the experimental group.

Keywords: teacher, psychological distress, mindfulness, quasi-experiment.

Los docentes constituyen uno de los colectivos profesionales más afectados por problemas de tipo psicológico. El objetivo de este estudio cuasi-experimental es examinar la eficacia de un programa de entrenamiento en mindfulness para reducir el malestar psicológico en un grupo de docentes. La muestra estuvo constituida por 68 profesores de Educación Secundaria, de varios centros públicos; la mitad de ellos formaron el grupo control, y la otra mitad el grupo experimental. Los niveles de malestar psicológico fueron evaluados, en ambos grupos, mediante el Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL- 90-R) antes y después de aplicación del programa. Los análisis estadísticos muestran la reducción significativa en las tres medidas generales de malestar psicológico (Índice de Severidad Global, Índice de Distrés de Síntomas Positivos y Total de Síntomas Positivos), así como en todas sus dimensiones (somatización, obsesión-compulsión, sensibilidad interpersonal, depresión, ansiedad, hostilidad, ansiedad fóbica, ideación paranoide y psicoticismo), en el grupo experimental en comparación con el grupo control. Medidas de seguimiento mostraron que estos resultados se mantuvieron transcurridos cuatro meses tras la finalización de la intervención en el grupo experimental.

Palabras clave: docentes, malestar psicológico, mindfulness, cuasi-experimento.

In recent years, the findings of several studies have alerted us to the significant increase in psychological distress among teachers (e.g., Fueguel & Montoliu, 2005; Martínez, 1997; Moriana & Herruzo, 2004; Sevilla & Villanueva, 2000), which has been exacerbated by high levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. It may even have reached the point of negatively affecting their job performance (e.g., Calvete & Villa, 2000; Del Pozo, 2000; Matud, García, & Matud, 2002; Smith, 2001). For example, a study conducted by a labor union called Labor Commissions found that teachers are among the groups of professionals most seriously impacted by stress, depression, and psychological fatigue. The situation has reached such an extreme that eight out of every ten teachers report that psychological problems are the group's main ailment (Sevilla & Villanueva, 2000). Similarly, a study conducted by the National Association of Education Professionals (ANPE; acronym in Spanish) in collaboration with the Jiménez Díaz Foundation suggests that 73% of public school teachers are at risk of suffering from an anxiety or depressive disorder (ANPE, 2005).

Teachers' academic education does not include any sort of psychological preparation or self-awareness tools, so teachers tend to lack the resources and abilities needed to meet the rigors and demands that their work as educators requires of them day to day (Anadón, 2005; Bisquerra, 2005). …

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