The Health Situation of Students, Teachers, and School Heads in Germany
The number of worrying national and international findings on the safety and health of students, teachers, and school heads is increasing. The morbidity spectrum in highly developed Western countries has shifted from acute diseases to a general increase in mental health and behavioral problems. In the area of student safety at school, the national social accident insurance reported 877,628 accidents at general schools with 8.4 million students in total. That means that one in ten students is involved in an accident (DGUV 2017).
Overweight and obesity alongside associated chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases have increased significantly (Kolip et al. 1995; Dadaczynski et al. 2018; Dadaczynski 2018a), as well as headache, abdominal and back pain (Krause et al. 2017), and conspicuous eating habits or individual core symptoms of an eating disorder (Pickhardt et al. 2019). Bullying at schools has also become an everyday phenomenon. Every sixth 15-year-old in Germany is bullied at school (OECD 2017; UNICEF 2018). Psychological abnormalities (emotional problems, problems with peers, behavioral problems, hyperactivity) in children and adolescents are also on the rise (Klipker et al. 2018).
These significantly negative quantitative values are of particular importance in the school context since they are closely related to the demands school places on the cognitive-perceptual and social-emotional-motivational disposition spectrum of students. Such variances are all the more disturbing if they occur when children begin school because they can then have a negative influence not only on the initial phase of schooling but on the further course of the child’s education.
However, at a level of 20% to over 40%, schools are increasingly perceived as stressful by the students (Beisenkamp et al. 2011; IFT-Nord 2017; Berngruber et al.
2018). Circumstances experienced as stressful include the teacher-student relationship (whereby stress, depression, and burnout symptoms by teachers have consequences for the students), engagement in school councils, and school grounds and its service facilities (e.g., schoolyard, school canteen). It is also important to what extent a school can convey perspectives and meaningful experiences and create a positive social atmosphere in the school and classroom (Hascher 2004; Bilz 2008; Rathmann et al. 2018).