WORKPLACE CULTURE TAKING INTOLERABLE TOLL ON TEACHERS’ LIVES
Nearly one in ten (9%) teachers say the strain of their job has contributed to the breakup of a relationship in the last 12 months, a survey by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has found.
Over two thirds (68%) say their job prevents them from giving adequate time to their partner, family and friends and over half (58%) say their family and friends get fed up with the pressures that teaching puts on their relationship.
More than four out five (84%) teachers say that they frequently worry about work problems when they are not working and just 11% say they are able to relax at home. Over half (56%) say their job satisfaction has declined in the last 12 months.
Nearly six in ten (59%) say their job has adversely impacted on their mental health in the last 12 months and (52%) say it has had a detrimental impact on their physical health.
Teachers report turning to medication, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine to help them cope with their job, with 22% reporting increased use of alcohol, 22% increased use of caffeine and 5% increased use of tobacco to help them manage work-related stress.
12% say they have undergone counselling, 7% have used or increased their reliance on prescription drugs, 11% have used or increased their reliance on anti-depressants to help them cope and 4% have been admitted to hospital as a result of work-related illness. 2% of teachers say they have self-harmed as a result of work-related pressures.
The pressures of teaching are sapping teachers of their morale and energy with more than four out of five teachers (83%) saying their job has had an adverse impact on their wellbeing, over half (54%) saying they do not look forward to going to work and the same number saying they are often too worn down to give their job their best effort.
83% say they are too tired after work to enjoy the things they like to do and only 8% say they have the time and energy for hobbies.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“It is clear that for too many teachers the job is taking an unacceptable toll on their health and wellbeing and that this is affecting all aspects of their personal and professional lives.
“If the majority of teachers are unable to relax away from work and feel constantly worn down and worried about work issues then their mental and physical health is inevitably going to suffer and they will not be able to give their best to the children they teach.
“Teachers are often made to feel that they are failing if they admit to experiencing stress, exhaustion or health problems in the workplace, yet concealing the problem inevitably makes it worse.
“Employers have responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of their staff but few address this seriously.
“The NASUWT believes that all schools should be providing mental health first-aid, including an entitlement for staff to have access to professional counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy, in the interests not only of teachers, but also of pupils.
“However, prevention is better than cure and the driving factors behind the rise in teacher stress, including excessive workload and working hours, need to be effectively addressed by Government to tackle the growing epidemic of low morale, burnout and stress which is conspiring to make teaching an increasingly unattractive profession.”