One in 50 teachers 'has self-harmed' amid Covid stress

'Shocking' data shows 23% of teachers are on medication and 12% have sought counselling to help deal with work stress

NASUWT research reveals the impact of Covid on teacher mental health

The "shocking" impact of the Covid pandemic on teacher mental health has been revealed in new research published by the NASUWT teaching union today.

It shows that almost eight in 10 teachers feel that their job has adversely affected their mental health in the past 12 months, and almost half said the job had affected their physical health.

More than a quarter of survey respondents have needed help from a doctor or medical professional because of the impact of their job during the Covid pandemic, and 23 per cent have taken medication, while 12 per cent have undergone counselling.

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Around 9 per cent now use or have increased their reliance on antidepressant drugs, while almost a third have increased their use of alcohol.

Among the sample of just under 4,000 teachers from across England, 7 per cent said they had suffered a relationship breakdown and 2 per cent said they had "self-harmed".

Teacher mental health: 'Unmanageable workloads' during Covid

The union has released the findings on the second day of its annual conference, taking place online, where a motion up for debate this afternoon notes how teachers’ mental health has been “exacerbated by unmanageable workloads and adverse management practices during the Covid pandemic”.   

NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said the pandemic had led to “a huge increase in workload”, which had had “a detrimental effect on teachers’ physical and mental health”.

He said: “These figures are truly shocking and starkly illustrate the significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and school staff.

“Ministers and school employers must recognise that to deliver the programme of education recovery vital for the nation’s children and young people, teacher wellbeing has to be recognised.

“It is vital to the delivery of high-quality education as the country hopefully emerges from the pandemic in the months and years ahead.”

The research shows that:

  • 79 per cent of teachers feel their job has adversely affected their mental health in the past 12 months, and of those almost half (48 per cent) said uncertainty about safety in their school was a factor.
  • 81 per cent of teachers responding to the survey have experienced an increase in workplace stress over the past year, and almost half (48 per cent) said the job had affected their physical health.
  • 27 per cent of teachers have needed to see a doctor or medical professional to help with the detrimental impact on their mental and physical health caused by their job during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • 87 per cent have experienced anxiety.
  • 79 per cent have suffered from loss of sleep.
  • 30 per cent have increased their use of alcohol.
  • 12 per cent have undergone counselling "to give them extra support".
  • 9 per cent use or have increased their reliance on antidepressant drugs.
  • 7 per cent have suffered a relationship breakdown.
  • 2 per cent have self-harmed.

One teacher said in the survey: “Managing my own family with the increased workload of remote learning as well as in the classroom learning was ridiculous. I was working two jobs. My mental health suffered, my family's mental health suffered. I considered leaving the profession.”

Another said: “Having to teach every timetabled lesson live online whilst simultaneously teaching students in school was incredibly difficult and stressful.”

Another said: “I just feel utterly overwhelmed...”

The statistics were taken from the NASUWT’s Big Question Survey of members, which took place between 21 February and 29 March this year.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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