education

Nearly 80% of school staff struggling with mental health issues from work


The number of staff suffering from mental health symptoms has gone up since last year (Picture: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images)

More than three in four school staff have suffered poor mental health linked to their work this year, a poll shows.

At least one behavioural, physical or psychological symptom has been experienced by 77% of teachers, senior leaders and support staff, the Education Support charity found.

That is an increase from 74% last year. Symptoms reported by teachers include panic attacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, mood swings and tearfulness.

The proportion of staff citing the pandemic as a factor behind their issues was 62% this year, compared with 33% in 2020.

One primary school headteacher said that while the wider community is ‘Covid-weary;’ and desperate to return to ‘normality’, frontline staff are still struggling.

She said: ‘The message from Ofsted and the Government is that the pandemic is over, everything’s back to normal. But we’re so far from that in schools – we’re still living in the heart of it.

‘Every day I make decisions that scare me. I’m not a medic. I’m a teacher, but everyone expects me to be a Covid expert.

The number of staff citing the pandemic as a factor behind their mental health issues was 62% (Picture: Shutterstock)

‘I’m afraid that one day I’ll make the wrong decision and someone will get hurt.’

Education Support chief executive Sinead Mc Brearty said: ‘The pandemic may appear “over” for the wider community, but this report shows that isn’t the case for teachers and senior leaders.

‘Rather than seeing improvements to their mental health in 2021, the pressure has ratcheted up further.

‘This report is a wake-up call for anyone who cares about the future of education in the UK.

‘The success of the education recovery plans depends on a resilient teaching sector that is supported and resourced to meet the needs of children and young people in the wake of pandemic disruption.

‘The Government must recognise that education is a high-pressure environment and provide adequate training and support for everyone working in the sector.’

General secretary of the NASUWT teaching union Dr Patrick Roach added: ‘Teachers cannot simply be expected to soldier on.

‘No teacher should be expected to sacrifice their mental or physical health to do their job.

‘The wellbeing of teachers is integral to pupils’ progress and achievement in education.’

The Department for Education said it was ‘incredibly grateful’ for educators’ efforts and had invested £760,000 in mental health support.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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