A handful of recent reports paint a bleak picture of teacher mental health in the UK. Last week, the Teacher Wellbeing Index 2018 conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Education Support Partnership highlighted a 'stress epidemic' across the entire UK education workforce.
- 57% of education professionals who responded have considered leaving in the past 2 years because of their health
- Over 75% of education professionals who responded had experienced work-related symptoms
- 80% of senior leaders have suffered from work-related stress and 40% have suffered from depression
- 72% of respondents say workload is the main reason for considering leaving their jobs
- 64% of schools do not regularly survey their staff to gauge employee wellbeing
Experienced teachers are close to quitting
Victoria was suffering from anxiety:
“Anxiety hit as I walked into my classroom one morning - anxiety so crippling I had to turn and walk out. A member of staff caught me in the corridor, asked if I was okay and that was it. Tears streamed down my face, snot poured from my nose, words failed to leave my mouth. The deputy head came to see me to ask what was wrong. I couldn’t explain but I couldn’t be there. The job had worn me down, the emotional toll broke me.”
The study results in many ways echo Eteach’s own research. Low morale was one of the top reasons why teachers leave the profession, cited by 59% of respondents, second only to excessive workloads (78%).
Almost two thirds (62%) of the teachers we questioned for our survey admitted that they are thinking about leaving their current job in the next three years.
Changes need to be made
There’s no doubt about it: we desperately need to address and improve mental health among educational professionals to ensure they are healthy and happy in their roles, and to boost retention across the board.
Julian Stanley, CEO of Education Support Partnership is calling for the following changes:
- Mandatory provision of personal mental health and wellbeing guidance within Initial Teaching Training
- Regulators to prioritise staff wellbeing in their assessments and measure this against an evidenced based framework
- Statutory annual staff surveys in all schools and colleges; with senior leaders acting on the issues identified in an open and transparent way
- Increased awareness, knowledge and signposting to external support services
- Access to an employee assistance programme for all staff in schools and colleges
- Access to facilitated peer support programmes for all senior leaders in schools and colleges.
Budget cuts, reduced staff numbers and large class sizes continue to put increased pressure on schools and teachers. The report offers useful support and advice for education staff and organisations, but of course, more needs to be done if we’re to improve the outlook for the education sector.