As helpline prepares for peak in calls, charity urges teachers to talk and protect wellbeing

When people phone us they’re often in a state of crisis, panic and high distress” - Anna, a helpline counsellor

The leading charity supporting teachers’ wellbeing is entering its busiest period of the year as hundreds of struggling education staff contact its free helpline, often in distress.

Education Support Partnership is urging teachers and colleagues to share concerns if they have them whilst ensuring they take time to protect and improve their wellbeing during the festive break. This Christmas, the charity is also encouraging anyone working in the sector to share messages of support for and with one another using the Twitter hashtag #SnowedUnder

Last year in the lead-up to Christmas and the new year period, the charity supporting the health and wellbeing of anyone working in the sector received over two and a half thousand (2605) calls, with January being its busiest month. The free, confidential helpline 08000 562 561 is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

The particular pressures on the profession can be heightened at this time of year after a stressful autumn term, particularly for NQTs. Nearly 600 (580) queries for financial help through Education Support Partnership’s grants scheme also came through during the same period. The charity wants teachers and others working in education to talk about problems before they reach a crisis which many are already experiencing by the time they get in touch with us and speak to one of our specialist counsellors.

Anna, a senior helpline counsellor who has supported many teachers through the 24-hour service said:

When someone calls, we can often talk to them for up to an hour to bring them out of the state of crisis. But it can take a crisis situation for a breakthrough moment to happen, where a person can stop and say something has to give.”

Teacher Laura called us in a state of high distress when she was experiencing panic attacks. She commented:

The phone call to your helpline was absolutely the moment when things started to get better. I cannot thank you enough. Your number needs to be on every staffroom wall.”

A study conducted by City, University of London in close collaboration with Education Support Partnership, confirmed the importance of the Christmas break as a prevention to teacher burnout and exhaustion, helping to restore psychological health and energy.

Led by Dr Paul Flaxman and Sonja Carmichael Organisational Psychology researchers at City, the study found that those who managed to successfully ‘switch off’ from work over Christmas, and were able to satisfy the basic psychological needs for a sense of competence, autonomy, and feeling close to others, felt the benefits to their well-being not only during the break but into the first few weeks of January too.

Julian Stanley, CEO of Education Support Partnership, said:

“We talk to thousands of teachers, lecturers and support staff and others working in the education sector every year we and so we are only too aware of the stresses and strains of the job and of how it can easily become overwhelming.

“We want to encourage anyone in the sector facing a personal or professional crisis to talk and get support if you need it. At the same time, we are sending a reminder of the importance of making time for yourself during the festive period and doing things you enjoy to restore your sense of ‘self’ before the new challenges and joys of the new term.”

Dr Paul Flaxman said:

“It has been fascinating studying teachers’ experiences of breaks from work, such as Christmas and half-term here in the UK and Spring Break in the US. Our data indicate that these regular breaks are absolutely crucial for maintaining teachers’ mental health and reducing the risk of burnout.

“Our research has also highlighted an issue with some teachers continuing to worry and ruminate about work during non-work time. If you are someone who tends to worry or ruminate about things, we recommend mindfulness training. This can help to ensure we do not get too ‘caught up’ in unhelpful cycles of negative thinking, thereby improving our well-being and ability to recover from work pressures.

“Other research has suggested that unfinished work tasks and unfulfilled work goals can keep us thinking about work during leisure time. A simple recommendation when finishing work before a break is to write a brief plan about how and when you will complete any unfinished tasks or goals when you return to work – it seems simple, but there is evidence that this simple technique helps to ensure that unfinished task or goals do not play on our minds too much outside of work time.”

The City researchers are continuing their teacher well-being research around the February 2017 half-term break. If you are interested in participating, further information and a sign-up form can be found here:

http://www.city.ac.uk/assessing-teachers-well-being

Alternatively, you can email the researchers directly at: teachers.wellbeing@city.ac.uk

Ends

Notes to Editors

Education Support Partnership is a charity that was 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 Professors 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 free, 24/7 helpline, telephone counselling, money management, grants, peer to peer support groups, coaching, employee assistance programmes, training, information and signposting to schools and colleges across the UK.

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

Our Christmas fundraising appeal encourages education staff to share cards with messages of support with a donation which the charity is sharing as part of its #snowed under campaign https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/helping-us/christmas-appeal

 

About City, University of London
City, University of London is a global institution committed to academic excellence, with a focus on business and the professions and an enviable central London location. 

It is the top higher education institution in London for student satisfaction (The Complete University Guide), is ranked 18th overall in the United Kingdom (Guardian University Guide) and is among the top five per cent of universities in the world (Times Higher Education World Rankings).

City has around 19,500 students (46% at postgraduate level) from more than 150 countries and staff from over 75 countries.  More than 130,000 former students from over 180 countries are members of the City Alumni Network. City’s academic range is broadly-based with world-leading strengths in business; law; health sciences; mathematics; computer science; engineering; social sciences; and the arts including journalism and music. 

The University’s history dates from 1894, with the foundation of the Northampton Institute on what is now the main part of City’s campus.  In 1966, City was granted University status by Royal Charter and the Lord Mayor of London became its Chancellor.  In September 2016, City joined the University of London federation and HRH the Princess Royal became City’s Chancellor.  Professor Sir Paul Curran has been Vice-Chancellor and President of City since 2010.