Many secondary teachers facing stress and anxiety

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A majority of secondary school teachers have reported suffering from stress and anxiety, while half say they have been hit by depression.

A majority of secondary school teachers have reported suffering from stress and anxiety, while half say they have been hit by depression.

The results of a Teacher Support Network poll have found that 60 per cent of secondary teachers believe their performance has suffered as a result.

The survey of 846 teachers found that 91 per cent said they suffered from stress, 74 per cent from anxiety and 49 per cent had depression. The mental health problems led to 31 per cent of the teachers taking time off work, while 16 per cent resigned from their positions.

A majority of the teachers blamed excessive workloads for their ill health, with the pace of educational change and “unreasonable demands from managers” also being cited. 

Overall, 88 per cent believed that their mental health would improve if managers worked with them to reduce workload.

Part of the problem also seems to be that just seven per cent of teachers reported that their school’s wellbeing policy was always implemented.

Among those in the study, London psychology teacher Graham Calvert quit his job as head of department after suffering work-related depression.

He explained: “I had three episodes of depression between 2011 and 2013. It was primarily related to the teaching environment and things that happened to me at work would build up over time.

“The first time I was diagnosed, my doctor said this is clearly reactive depression and it was definitely work that was bringing it on. There was nothing going on in my personal life at the time. It made me feel anxious and because I was so tired all the time I wasn’t able to sleep properly.”

Meanwhile a science teacher from the North of England, who asked to be anonymous, was signed off work from May until September this year with ME. She said: “Three months before, I physically collapsed because of stress at school. I was physically shaking after some lessons. 

“I knew I was stressed but I knew this wasn’t normal. I spoke to my line manager but she said everyone is struggling, it’s hard in the run up to Ofsted, it’s normal. 

“There is a lack of knowledge in schools about what is a normal level of health. I was signed off six weeks before the exams. I wasn’t there at that important time and it does affect the students’ learning.”

Teacher Support Network chief executive Julian Stanley said: “These results show how poor mental health at work is destroying the quality of teaching.

“A significant number of staff are taking time off sick while others who remain at work demonstrate how ill health affects their confidence and performance in the classroom. 

“How can teachers be able to focus on raising education standards when they are suffering as a result of unsustainable workloads and poor support from managers? 

“We need government and school leaders to understand how important it is to ensure our teaching staff are mentally and physically fit.

“As education secretary Nicky Morgan said (in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference), we do not want our children to be taught by teachers who are too tired, too stressed and too anxious to do the job well.”

For more information on the Teacher Support Network, visit www.teachersupport.info

  


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