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Crisis in teachers' mental health and wellbeing

Teachers are turning to medication, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine to help them cope with their job, a survey by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has found.

22% report increased use of alcohol, 21% increased use of caffeine and 5% increased use of tobacco to help them manage work-related stress, while 7% teachers use or have increased their reliance on prescription drugs. 

10% of teachers say they have been prescribed anti-depressants to help them cope.

Almost half (47%) of teachers have seen a doctor in the last 12 months as a result of work related physical or mental health problems, 14% have undergone counselling and 5% have been admitted to hospital.

Over three quarters (79%) reported experiencing work related anxiousness, 86% have suffered sleeplessness and a third report poor health.

Over 7 in 10 (73%) have suffered from low energy levels.

Shockingly, 2% of teachers say they have self-harmed as a result of work-related pressures.

The findings, from the NASUWT’s  2016 Big Question Survey 2016, are being released as teachers at the NASUWT’s Annual Conference in Birmingham debate a motion condemning the destructive impact of excessive workload on teachers’ mental and physical health.

These figures are released as the teacher supply crisis deepens across the country.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Yet again we have shocking figures about the toll the job is taking on the health and wellbeing of teachers and school leaders.

“It is unacceptable that given the increasing scale of the problem, there is still no sign of either employers or the Government taking any effective action to address this.

“Instead of offering support, in far too many cases we see employers introducing punitive and callous sickness absence policies.

“High quality education cannot be delivered by stressed and anxious teachers.”

The NASUWT teachers union logo