The Effect of Occupational Stress and Coping Strategies on Mental Health and Emotional Well-being among University Academic Staff during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Panhuo Shen, Paul F Slater

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Abstract

The level of stress among academics in higher education institutions has significantly increased over the past decade. Mental health and well-being of academics can be affected once they are exposed to stressful work conditions and use negative coping strategies. This study was set against the backdrop of the pandemic disease, COVID-19, which has challenged the daily work of academics and risen to the various new stressors. This study aims to investigate the current status of occupational stress, coping styles, mental health and emotional well-being of university academics during the COVID-19 outbreak in Northern Ireland, and examine the effect of stress and coping strategies on mental health and emotional well-being. A cross-sectional online survey was conducted using a sample size of 87 academic staff working in a university in Northern Ireland. SPSS version 25 was used to analyse the collected data. The results showed academics experienced moderate stress levels, and distraction behaviours were the most common form of coping mechanism. Academics were in the moderate status of mental health and poor emotional well-being. Occupational stress has a significant effect on mental health and emotional well-being. Positive reframing and acceptance coping styles have an impact on emotional well-being. This study contributes to the understanding of occupational stress, coping strategies, mental health and emotional well-being of academics in higher education in Northern Ireland. The findings can help to develop reliable methods to inform policy on health and well-being for university academics, which in turn lead to increased productivity at work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-95
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Education Studies
Volume14
Issue number3
Early online date24 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • academics
  • coping strategies
  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • occupational stress
  • university
  • well-being

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