Teachers' Mental Health Report
The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by 2020 depression will be the biggest single disease burden, costly to individuals, families, communities and the economy as a whole through lowered productivity, absenteeism and unemployment. Perhaps in response, the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of health and wellbeing appears to have risen up the policy agenda in the UK and the rest of Europe (Europe, 2008; European Union High-level Conference, 2008).
Thus, there is an acknowledgement that while we can never eradicate mental illness there is much that government, in partnership with communities, employers, trade unions and individuals, can do to prevent it being experienced by so many and for so long. In the UK, various policy documents acknowledge the need for new approaches in how we live and work (Department of Health, 2009; Leavey, Galway, Rondon, and Logan, 2009). Particularly relevant to the current study, employment is a key site in which people may find a sense of purpose, belonging, satisfaction and personal identity (Black, 2008). Conversely, when things go wrong in work, it can become the source of much unhappiness, anxiety and depression, in some instances leading to self-harm and suicide.
Stress and professional burnout among teachers in the UK has contributed significantly to an unnecessary and wasteful exodus from the profession (Smithers and Robinson, 2003). Indeed, there has been mounting concern among policy makers and the teaching unions about the recruitment and retention of teachers in UK maintained schools over the past two decades.