Teachers mental health | Education Support Partnership

Teachers mental health

We are now seeing the impact of this perfect storm on many teacher’s mental health and wellbeing. This is a far-reaching crisis which needs comprehensive action.

Every day we support education professionals who are suffering the consequences of many factors causing severe pressure: budget cuts; fewer staff, bigger class sizes and localised recruitment and retention difficulties in some areas are adding to workload and increasing stress levels. Outside school, many are suffering financially.

According to our latest research, 75% of all education staff have faced physical or mental health issues in the last two years because of their work and 53% have considered leaving as a result.

  • Almost one in five (19%) said they had experienced panic attacks
  • Over half (56%) had suffered from insomnia and difficulties sleeping
  • Over a third (41%) had experienced difficulty concentrating

Workload and work-life balance were cited as the top work-related reasons. Symptoms and issues suffered appearing similar across roles and levels of seniority.

Victoria, a head of department in a secondary school was on the verge of leaving the profession when she spoke to our specialist helpline:

“The workload was relentless and despite asking for support to look at where I could cut it down, I received no guidance. I became exhausted and as a result broke down in front of my class.”

Of those who said they had experienced mental health problems:

  • Nearly half (47%) said their personal relationships had suffered
  • Over a quarter (28%) said they had been forced to take time off work
  • Of these, half (52%) had been off for more than a month during the academic year

So what can be done to alleviate or even prevent this epidemic of mental health problems in education?

As a charity for all of those working in the education sector, we recognise that medication can be an extremely valuable solution to mental health problems. However, we also know that there are many other helpful interventions that can be used alongside or even instead of this approach.

Prevention

We work hard to find ways to prevent the problems those in teaching might face, while also offering services to help cure the symptoms many do experience.

Our charity’s services help school leaders to put effective programmes of support in place to better manage their teams, take the “temperature” of the workplace, and put in place processes to build positive school cultures. Not all problems can be cured in this way of course, but a focus on organisational development is a good place to start.

In our experience the main cause of many of these problems is the pressure of the on-going recruitment and retention crisis. Some of the preventative measures we would like to see from ministers include:

  • Slowing the pace of curriculum and national education policy change.
  • Stronger guidance to enable school leaders to provide support for staff in order to create more positive cultures in schools.
  • A reduction in workload.

Cure

Sadly, prevention is a long road, and so in the short-term more needs to be done to provide a cure. One of our contributions to a “portfolio” approach of solutions comes in the form of our free helpline.

Through this we provide thousands of those in education with talking and listening therapies, and occasionally connect individuals to appropriate additional help through GPs or external counselling services. Often just talking to our helpline staff is the first step towards feeling better.

More widely, though, to manage or reduce the stress many teachers experience we regularly suggest the following:

  • Exercise three/four times a week, reducing muscle tension.
  • Minimise in-take of sugar, caffeine and other artificial stimulants.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Practise at least one relaxation exercise.
  • Rise 15 minutes earlier in the morning (making morning mishaps less stressful).
  • Listen to music.
  • Make time for fun.
  • Unplug your phone.

If you are suffering from anxiety or related problems please don’t suffer in silence.

Make contact with someone you know who might be able to help in your school, get more tips and ideas from our free Life Guides or, like many others, call our helpline.

If you need help, our free telephone support and counselling from trained experts is here for you day or night, 24/7, 365 days a year.

How we can help

  • Help for teaching and support staff  
    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