Education charity encourages staff to share their mental health concerns

Teachers in Wales last year took almost 52,000 days off school due to stress-related illness, new figures have shown.

Research conducted by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Cymru found that 12 of Wales’ 22 local authorities reported a rise in stress-induced teacher leave in 2015 .

The union’s secretary David Evans said the figures suggested Wales was “bordering on a crisis” in the teaching profession.’

This did not come as any surprise to Education Support Partnership (formerly Teacher Support Cymru).  Our annual Education Sector Health Survey uncovered an ‘epidemic’ of mental health issues.

The survey of over 2000 of those working in Primary, Secondary, Higher and Further Education across the UK highlighted that the majority (84%) had suffered from some form of mental health problems in the last 2 years including; stress (77%), anxiety (60%) and depression (38%).

Workload was to blame in the majority of cases (81%) with the rapid pace of change and unreasonable demands from line managers neck and neck at 44%.

The results also suggest mental health issues are at risk of being a closely guarded secret as only one quarter of those affected discussed their problems with line managers.

Julian Stanley, CEO of the Education Support Partnership explains: “Our survey suggests that not only are mental health problems continuing to be a worrying trend for the sector, there is also a fear preventing people from speaking out or seeking appropriate help when they need it. Perhaps this is due to a shortage of workplace wellbeing programmes or due to a sense that school leaders just don’t want to hear more bad news. Either way this has to change if we are to hold onto valuable staff who need more support to help them stay working and at their best.”

“These results suggest that some in the sector are experiencing a communications breakdown, not speaking to their managers about their issues but instead burdening their nearest and dearest with problems they, neither know or can do anything about. Not only is this not sustainable from a professional but also a personal perspective, as our survey found that nearly half of those experiencing mental health problems had found this to have a negative impact on their personal relationships too.”

“Ultimately, responsibility for work place wellbeing should lie with the employer, not family, friends or trade unions, this why we believe that the adoption of wellbeing programmes across the entire education sector is so critically important in helping to find ways to unlock, prevent and repair the damage of work place strain.”
 
“Despite the constant barrage of negative news education is still one of the most varied and inspiring sectors in which to work. With the right support from Welsh Government, school leaders and Governors, Local Authorities and Consortia, education staff can still thrive and survive. The key learnings from this survey seem to be that making sharing of one’s concerns about mental health difficulties should be the norm rather than a shameful secret to be hidden away, and that more processes and policies need to be put into place to make sure that staff feel better supported and cared for.”

How we at Education Support Partnership can help:

  • Help for individuals  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, an Ofsted inspection, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.

If you would like more information on our services for individuals and organisations, please contact Sandra Taylor, Regional Development Consultant  – Sandra.taylor@edsupport.org.uk for details.-

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Education Support Partnership Comms@edsupport.org.uk or call 020 7697 2750

Notes to Editors

Education Support Partnership is a charity established nearly 140 years ago to offer support and guidance specifically for those working in the education sector, from lunch time supervisor to teacher, from FE college tutor to University Professor and everyone in between.

We provide support regarding the emotional health, wellbeing of education staff as well as professional and organisational development. This includes a 24/7 helpline, telephone counselling, money management, grants, peer to peer support groups, coaching, employee assistance programmes, training, information and signposting.

To get support call: 08000 562 561 or to find out more or visit www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk