Teacher Mental Health and Leaves of Absences: A Pilot Study Examining Gender and Care


  • Kristen Ferguson Nipissing University
  • Yvonne James University of Ottawa
  • Ivy Lynn Bourgeault University of Ottawa




teacher stress, teacher mental health, leaves of absences, teaching as carework


The literature reports high levels of occupational stress for teachers, exacerbated by heavy loads of emotional labour in the classroom. We know less, however, about teacher mental health concerns as they relate to leaves of absences and returns to work, and the role gender may play related to leaves of absences and returns to work. Our pilot study aimed to address these gaps using a survey (n= 67) and follow up interviews (n = 8). We found that the stress teachers experienced at school often results from lack of support from administration, increased workload, lack of resources, violence, and isolation, which then impacts home lives. Over a quarter of teachers surveyed have taken a leave of absence from work, with the majority being women. Female teachers often used sick days to care for ill children. Stigma surrounding teacher mental health and leaves of absence were both perceived as prevalent within the profession.

Author Biographies

Kristen Ferguson, Nipissing University

Kristen Ferguson is a Professor of Education with Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay. Her research interests include stress and coping in teaching, literacy education, literacy coaching, and professional development.

Yvonne James, University of Ottawa

Yvonne James (she/her) is a research associate in the Gender, Work, and Health Lab at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include equity at work, mental health among professionals, and feminist approaches to care-centred leadership.

Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, University of Ottawa

Ivy Lynn Bourgeault is a Professor in the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa and the uOttawa Research Chair in Gender, Diversity,and the Professions.




How to Cite

Ferguson, K., James, Y., & Bourgeault, I. L. (2022). Teacher Mental Health and Leaves of Absences: A Pilot Study Examining Gender and Care . Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 45(2), 315–349. https://doi.org/10.53967/cje-rce.v45i2.4485