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Teachers’ mental health and wellbeing: Recent report reveals that we must act now

Teachers' mental health
 "It is time to start taking the mental health of our teachers and educators seriously."
- Education Support
 
The latest annual report of school and college wellbeing staff by Education Support has shown there is more work to do to protect the mental health of the education workforce.
 
This survey was conducted in the middle of the first Covid19 lockdown, yet the trends go back over several years. 

Stress levels remain high among teachers and higher still for senior leaders with long working hours being a major contributor.

Over half of staff have considered leaving the profession in order to reduce the harm it is doing to their mental health.

 There is still too much stigma with 57% of staff saying that they cannot seek mental health support from their employer as it will be perceived badly, be interpreted as a sign of weakness or they will feel shame. 

The good news is that more settings are providing guidance on staff mental health, but still the majority of staff do not receive this. The survey shows a big variation with some employers having extensive support and others hardly having any. 

What needs to change?
Improving the mental health of education professionals is only made possible by acknowledging the links between policy decisions, workplace culture and individual staff wellbeing. Strategies to improve the wellbeing of the workforce must be targeted at each of these three levels.  
 
Educational settings need adequate resources to carry out their functions effectively.  Proper resources are the building blocks which support the mental health and wellbeing of education staff who, in turn, support their pupils and students.
 
The current accountability system in schools and colleges must be reviewed. The tension between narrow targets and holistic learner development is widely perceived to increase pressure on teachers, reducing job satisfaction and motivation.
 
Education Departments must implement a clear plan for the retention and recruitment of senior leaders, with a plan that includes meaningful action to reduce stress among this cohort.