Self-regulation and psychological wellbeing in a cohort of black South African teachers : the SABPA study
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The teaching profession is widely regarded as being very stressful (Klassen, Usher & Bong, 2010; Otero, Castro, Santiago & Villardefrancosl, 2010). South African teachers, especially Black teachers working in previously disadvantaged areas, have to cope with serious stressors such as overcrowded classrooms and limited resources on a daily basis (Ngidi & Sibaya, 2002; Moloi, 2010). Occupational stress of this nature is known to have significant negative implications for well-being, and chronic stress has been linked to mood and anxiety disorders, and other forms of psychopathology (Bellingrath, Weigl & Kudielka, 2009; Brock & Buckley, 2012; Mundai, 2010). However, psychological buffers could enable individuals to sustain normal development and even experience well-being, despite the presence of long-term stress (Friborg, Hjemdal, Rosenvinge & Martinussen, 2003; Ryff & Singer, 2003). Noted among these so-called protective factors, the process of self-regulation has been found to be predictive of positive outcomes with regard to physiological and psychological well-being (Hofer, Busch & Kärtner, 2011; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Self-regulation has, however, been found to represent a resource susceptible to depletion with repeated use, and there have been contradictory reports regarding the long-term sustainability of self-regulation capacity (Converse & DeShon, 2009; Ryan & Deci, 2008). No longitudinal studies could be found that explore the natural progression of self-regulation in a highly stressful context, and how changes in self-regulation are associated with changes in stress and well-being levels. This thesis consists of three sub-studies that are reported in three manuscripts. In the first of these sub-studies the levels of occupational stress and mental well-being in a cohort of Black South African teachers were investigated, including how these two variables are related to each other. The second sub-study aimed firstly to investigate the association between self-regulation and Black South African teachers’ self-reported levels of mental well-being. Secondly, it aimed to determine the role of the sub-constructs of the self-regulation process in the teachers’ selfreported levels of mental well-being. The aim of the third article was also two-fold. It first aimed to determine the natural progression of self-regulation within a highly stressful work context over a period of three years. It then aimed to determine how long-term changes in the selfregulation of individuals finding themselves in high-stress working conditions are associated with changes in their self-reported levels of stress and mental well-being. Black South African teachers (N=200, 101 men, 99 women) of ages ranging from 25 to 65 years from the North-West province of South Africa participated in the baseline phase of the SABPA project in 2008. Of the original 200 participants, a total of 173 teachers (88 men, 85 women) took part in data collection for the follow-up study in 2011. Data were collected by making use of quantitative measures (Teacher Stress Inventory (Boyle, Borg, Falzon & Baglion, 1995); General Health Questionnaire-28 (Goldberg & Hillier, 1979); Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (Keyes, 2006); Short Self-Regulation Questionnaire (Carey, Neal & Collins, 2004)) that have been validated for use in the South African context. The findings indicate that this group of teachers experienced high levels of stress, and symptoms indicative of mental illness to an extent that warrants psychiatric intervention. However, participants also reported higher than expected levels of mental health. The findings further indicated that self-regulation contributed positively to the participants’ mental health levels. The longitudinal findings also indicated improvements in this group of teachers’ selfregulation levels over time, and that these long-term changes in self-regulation were positively associated with changes in participants’ mental health. Recommendations for future investigations on the role of self-regulation in well-being that flowed from this research include extending research to other cultural groups and general populations; use of multiple or mixedmethod approaches to provide more insight into the participants’ short- and long-term experience of their working environment, their levels of stress and well-being and their self-regulation levels; investigating the psychological perspective on stress and exploring the concept of optimal self-regulation and the maintenance thereof. The study provided a holistic insight into the importance of self-regulation as protective factor in a highly stressed context, especially with regards to the promotion of mental well-being on a short term and long term basis.
- Humanities