Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Rodger, Susan C.


Educator wellness is inextricably linked to their ability to teach and support students in the classroom. However, limited research has examined the factors that influence educator mental health in Canada, and the role of mental health-based professional development in these relationships. Therefore, the present mixed-method, multi-phase study examined the current knowledge, understandings, and beliefs about professional development and mental wellness for Canadian teacher candidates and associate teachers. Results from a binomial logistic regression found that higher educator psychological distress was positively correlated with presenteeism, and negatively correlated with workplace psychological safety. A reflexive thematic analysis of twelve semi-structured interviews further revealed a general dissatisfaction towards current professional development by Canadian teachers, with educators desiring more trauma-informed, collaborative, and action-oriented approaches to be utilized. Thus, highlighting the need to enhance current structures designed to support educator wellness and improve upon mental-health based professional development for Canadian teachers.

Summary for Lay Audience

Poor mental health in teachers can impact their ability to educate and support all students – especially those with trauma backgrounds. Yet, limited research has explored the factors that support or hinder the wellness of Canadian educators and their mental health-related professional development. As such, this study looked at what Canadian teachers and teacher candidates know, understand, and think about their professional development and mental health. Two sources of information – surveys and interviews – were used to explore how educator mental health impacts a teacher’s ability to work at their job. It was revealed that low levels of educator wellness predicted less productivity in the workplace and feelings of being less supported at work. Interviews also revealed other issues affecting educator well-being, including their beliefs about the job and the challenges that they face. Overall, the study showed that teachers want better, more practical, and more engaging professional development founded on principles related to trauma-and-violence informed care. Thus, highlighting the need to improve upon current systems designed to support educators in Canada.