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Restoring the morale and health of the teaching profession must be the Government’s number one education priority if they want the best for children and young people.

Marking Workers’ Memorial Day today (Thursday), NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, is highlighting the significant toll which the failure of employers and governments to value teachers and provide them with safe and healthy working conditions is having on teachers’ mental and physical health.

The Union’s recent wellbeing survey of nearly 12,000 teachers found that 91% feel their job has adversely impacted their mental health in the last 12 months and 64% their physical health.

As a result of their work, 87% said they have experienced anxiousness in the last year and 81% loss of sleep.

16% said they had undergone counselling, 13% said they have begun using or increased their use of antidepressants and 7% prescription drugs.

Alarmingly, 3% reported self-harming because of work-related pressures and a further 3% said they had been admitted to hospital in the last year. 

In addition, teachers continue to face the impact of the pandemic with many teachers getting Covid multiple times as they face workplaces with few, if any, Covid safety measures in place and no access to free tests.

Teaching and the education workforce has the second highest prevalence of Long Covid, yet many teachers are being expected to soldier on with this life-changing condition without reasonable adjustments and effective support.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Delivering world-class education for every child requires that our schools and colleges are world-class workplaces too.

“However, for too many teachers this is far from the reality. Excessive and often crushing workloads are making teachers physically and mentally ill, with some teachers telling us they are even experiencing panic attacks and symptoms of PTSD.

“In the worst cases, teachers are reporting suicidal feelings, with analysis by the charity Education Support suggesting 11% of teachers have contemplated taking their own lives due to work.

“The pandemic has only increased the risks to teachers’ mental and physical welfare.

“And yet what is the response from Government? It has slashed funding and powers for watchdogs such as the HSE and EHRC, meaning that during the last two years when workers needed them more than ever they have been missing in action- allowing unsafe employment practices and workplace discrimination to go unchecked.

“No one should be made ill or have their life put at risk from simply going to work, yet this is precisely what tens of thousands of teachers are facing each day.

“It does not and should not have to be this way. Teachers deserve a better deal on their safety and welfare, for themselves and for the benefit of the pupils they teach.” 

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