Kita, Y., Yasuda, S. & Gherghel, C. Online education and the mental health of faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan. Sci Rep 12, 8990 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-12841-x
While the negative impact of the pandemic on students’ mental health has been studied around the world, very little is known about the mental health of faculty and staff. This research aims to examine mental health among Japanese faculty members who taught online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recruited 537 university faculty members and assessed their mental health using the World Health Organization-Five Well-Being Index (WHO-5), both retrospectively (during the academic year before the onset of the pandemic) and during the pandemic. We also evaluated workload (number of online lectures taught and preparation time per class), difficulty in using information technology (IT) for online classes, and satisfaction with the university support service for online education. As a result, the WHO-5 score during the COVID-19 pandemic was significantly lower than before, and 33.5% of the faculty members were recognized as being at risk for mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. A binomial logistic regression analysis revealed two significant risk factors for mental illness—faculty members were more at risk for mental illness when they experienced difficulty in using IT for online classes, and were unsatisfied with the administrative support for online education. The deterioration of mental health during the COVID-19 was not predicted by workload, such as the number of online lectures and preparation time. These results suggest the importance of improving workplace support services, especially IT support, to prevent mental health deterioration among faculty teaching online.
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