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Thousands of teachers are desperate for help

In just a year 12,000 depressed and stressed staff called a counselling line. Karen Thornton reports

ALARMING numbers of teachers are seeking treatment for stress and depression, calls to one of the country's largest helplines have revealed.

An analysis of the first year of calls to Teacherline, has found people are often desperate by the time they pick up the telephone. Of the 12,000-plus calls, 27 per cent already suffer from high levels of stress, anxiety or depression.

"Problems raised and addressed at an early stage invariably have much simpler solutions. We encourage any teachers who are experiencing problems to avoid hesitation and call before their health deteriorates and job and personal ives are adversely affected," said Patrick Nash, the network's chief executive.

The Teacher Support Network, which runs Teacherline, will today reveal the results of a small study of 25 teachers who used the service which showed almost a third had already visited their doctor and at least one in five had been prescribed anti-depressants.

And it is now considering commissioning a full-scale study on the state of teachers' health.

The link between stress and medical problems is just one of several issues raised by helpline calls - others include workload, excessive change, and loss of professional confidence. The organisation is still considering which to focus on in future research work.

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