Stressed staff turn to union helpline

26th December 1997 at 00:00
More than 250 members of the Educational Institute of Scotland have used the union's four helplines in the three months since they were introduced, figures released today (Friday) show.

There were 65 calls to the stress line alone. Ronnie Smith, the EIS general secretary, said a significant number involved work-related issues. "Members have concerns about class size, classroom indiscipline, workload, bullying at work and a range of more personal work-related worries which have been referred to other counsellors," Mr Smith said.

The stress calls have lasted from five to 70 minutes, the average being half an hour. The helpline is staffed by trained counsellors and the intention is to give them the opportunity of talking through their problem while also helping them develop strategies to combat it.

Mr Smith said: "I am very much aware that this service will not cure the problems of work-related stress. It is, however, providing an important means of support for members suffering from any stress-related condition. I would like to think that, in the future, the institute would be in a position to disband the helpline due to shortage of demand. However, in the present climate this may be something of a forlorn hope."

The EIS operates three other helplines dealing with bereavement, victim support and personal legal matters. The legal line accounted for the bulk of the calls, 173 in the period from the beginning of September to the end of November. But 90 of those dealt with employment issues on which the legal helpline does not provide advice. Such calls are passed to the union's legal affairs department.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today