Where to go for help if you're stressed

Knowing where to turn to when things get tough is a problem for thousands of stressed teachers. The professional mask that normally sits firmly in place begins to slip and the last thing they want is to confess to feelings of not being able to cope. So, some choose to keep those feelings tightly under control until, that is, they seep out of control. But before it gets to that stage, it’s probably a wise idea to seek help from organisations well-equipped to meet such needs.

Teacher Support Network
This is a national charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing and effectiveness of all teachers, including trainee and retired teachers. Teacher Support Network provides practical and emotional support to staff in the education sector through telephone coaching and online information. Their help lines are staffed by qualified teachers and counsellors while the Infocentre contains over 1,400 fact sheets covering a wide range of issues.

How TSN helped Mrs Q

Mrs Q, a confident 45-year-old teacher with 16 years’ experience, began to suffer from panic attacks during classroom observations. She telephoned the helpline at TSN and spoke to one of the trained coaches. The coach and Mrs Q explored ways of managing the panic attacks. These included relaxation, exercise, and thought diaries. Mrs Q realised that she felt out of control when in classroom observation situations. The coach and Mrs Q thought that she would do well to remember her achievements over the past 16 years when being observed and to try to stay positive throughout. At the end of the session, Mrs Q felt more able to cope with classroom observations.

Teacher Support Network
08000 562 561 (England)
0800 564 2270 (Scotland)
08000 855 088 (Wales

Teaching Unions
Advisers from teaching unions have specialist knowledge of health and safety legislation and can advise members suffering from stress.. “By law, schools have a duty to safeguard teachers’ physical and mental wellbeing,” says Doru Athinordoru, member adviser, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. “So we try to ensure that schools take this responsibility seriously,” he says.

How the Association of Teachers and Lecturers assisted stressed teachers in one school:

Teachers at a secondary school in Wales had high levels of stress due to disruptive pupils, poor staffing ratios and lack of support. The school had a very high turnover of staff and sickness absence rates were extraordinarily high. The union got involved and asked the school to carry out a stress risk assessment to identify the causes and areas of difficulty. At first the school was reluctant, but the union pointed out that under section II of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the school would be in breach of its duty of care to safeguard the physical and mental wellbeing of its staff. On reflection, the school agreed to carry out the assessment during which sickness records and staff turnover rates were examined. The end result led to the implementation of additional safeguards for dealing with violent students including better staffing ratios.

National Association of Headteachers

Other helpful organisations:

NHS Direct
Provides free online advice on illnesses including signs, symptoms and where to go for help
0845 4647

Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The Samaritans
The Samaritans provides confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair
08457 90 90 90.

British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
BACP can provide advice on a range of services to help meet the needs of anyone seeking information about counselling and psychotherapy.

Royal College of Psychiatrists
Free online information leaflets on a range of stress disorders

Health and Safety Executive
Advice, information and support for work-related stress

Citizens Advice Bureau
Online information on specific information and rights

National Bullying Helpline
Advice and help on bullying

Dignity at work
More advice on how to deal with bullying behaviour

Need more advice? Visit the Teachers’ survival guide