One in 20 teachers report “long-lasting” mental health problems

A record number of teachers are reporting long-lasting mental health problems as a result of the pressures faced in the classroom, a major study has revealed.

The annual research report, published by the Nuffield Foundation, has collected data from more than 20,000 teachers across the UK over almost three decades.

According to the study, one in 20 teachers in England have suffered a mental health condition that has lasted for longer than 12 months. This is compared to the 1990s, when just one per cent of teachers reported long-lasting mental health conditions.

Commenting on the study, lead author, Professor John Jerrim said: “The teaching profession in England is currently in the midst of a crisis and one potential reason why it’s struggling to recruit and retain enough teachers is due to the pressures of the job.

“It has long been known that teaching is a stressful and challenging career and we wanted to see if the mental health and well-being of teachers had improved or declined, especially in light of government promises to ease the burden upon the teaching profession.”

The report adds, however, that rising rates of mental illness have also been observed in professions other than teaching, such as nursing, accounting and human resources.

The authors speculate that rates of mental health may have always been high in these industries, but workers have been hesitant to speak openly about issues and seek medical advice.

“The results from our study may therefore not be as worrying as they first seem, if it means more teachers who are struggling with their mental health are now getting help,” Mr Jerrin added.

“However, more needs to done to monitor and improve the mental health and wellbeing of the teaching profession – similar to the commitment that has been made to track teachers’ workloads over time.”

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