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Growing number of teachers facing mental health issues – ATL

Over 50% of teachers say their job has had a negative effect on their mental health, a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has found.

The new poll also revealed that nearly two-fifths of school and college staff have reported a rise in mental health problems among their contemporaries in the last two years.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said she was shocked that many people had reported a rise in mental health issues.

She said: “Teachers, lecturers, support staff and heads are now so over-worked that it comes as no surprise that so many in the education profession suffer from stress, depression and other mental health issues.

“Education professionals do more unpaid overtime than any other group and are put under constant intense pressure to meet targets, with excessive observation, changes in the curriculum and Ofsted inspections.”

Ahead of the ATL’s annual conference in Manchester this week, a resolution has been put forward calling on the union to establish a dedicated working group to investigate the issue and specifically to look at the impact of performance management systems on those with mental health problems or hidden disabilities.

The survey, which questioned over 900 school and college staff, found of those who admitted they believe their job has a negative impact on their mental health (55%), 80% said they are stressed, 70% said they are left feeling exhausted by their work and two thirds (66%) said it disturbs their sleep.

Additionally, the stigma attached to mental health issues means those working in education are still afraid to tell their employers; two thirds (68%) of education staff who suffer with a mental health issue choose to hide it from their employers.

However, a Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We are giving teachers more freedoms than ever and cutting unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy.

“We trust the professionalism of our headteachers to work with their staff to ensure they receive the support they need and to see that any issues are addressed.”

But Dr Bousted added: “Those working in education need to be supported better, with schools and colleges making adjustments to their jobs and working conditions where necessary."

(Image copyright: David Cheskin/PA Wire Press Association Images)

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