Around 40% of NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) say they’ve suffered from mental health issues in the past year, a study has revealed.
The findings from the charity Education Support Partnership highlights that teachers who are less experienced are more prone to experiencing insomnia, panic attacks and mood swings than their fellow colleagues.
The charity also reveals that 52% of NQTs who have less than five years of experience have considered recently whether they should leave due to well-being and health pressures.
The findings were published by a national newspaper and highlight that 31% of all teachers say they have experienced a mental health issue over the past year.
Now the charity says that personal well-being and mental health training should be mandatory within initial teacher training.
They say that without taking urgent action over the rising mental-health worries the recruitment and retention crisis in the UK schools will worsen.
NQTs taking long periods of sick leave
Also, with NQTs taking long periods of sick leave, which needs to be covered by a supply teacher, means staff are overwhelmed and struggling despite feeling unwell themselves, which can have an impact on their pupils’ outcomes.
Along with poor student behaviour, and a high workload, mental health concerns are the main reason why newly qualified teachers are thinking about quitting the profession.
One anonymous teacher who has been signed-off for four months by her GP with stress after having a break down says that before becoming a teacher she had no mental-health problems and was full of enthusiasm when graduating.
However, she highlights that senior staff offered poor treatment in her first few years working in a classroom that left her feeling bullied and undermined.
She told researchers: “I was left exhausted with night terrors and I would have to pull my car over to be sick before arriving at school.”
She says she took her feelings out on pupils and would often breakdown and cry in her classroom’s reading tent.
Teachers experience psychological, behavioural or physical symptoms
The findings highlight that around three-quarters of teachers experience psychological, behavioural or physical symptoms because of work pressures and 25% of teachers say they have experienced anxiety and depression.
One education researcher, Prof Jonathan Glazzard from Leeds Beckett University, said: “Most teachers feel their poor mental-health has a detrimental effect on their pupils’ progress and feel it affects all aspects of their teaching and slowly affects everything.”
The charity runs a mental health support line for teachers and over the past year, they say the numbers calling has rocketed by 35%.
The chief executive of the Education Support Partnership, Julian Stanley, said: “Expectations of NQTs is high from colleagues and leadership teams.
“Sometimes teachers can feel vulnerable when saying what they are struggling with, especially if they are in a school with vacancies or particular pressures.”
He added that if no action was taken to deal with the risk of mental health issues, then the teaching profession will struggle to recruit new staff and teachers will be leaving it sooner than they may have done previously.
Teacher’s mental well-being and health
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said: “One reason for a teacher’s mental well-being and health being affected is down to unmanageable workloads.
He added: “The government needs to make significant strides in addressing accountability, increasing teacher pay and reducing workload or this situation will worsen and negatively impact on children and young people’s education.”