Teachers’ Mental Health survey recommendations
The report makes the following recommendations for action
Reduce work-related stressors, including: • the development of alternative approaches to school accountability;
• the removal of excessive workload pressures;
• the development of whole-school approaches to wellbeing that recognise and meet teachers’ physical and mental health needs;
• improved teacher training in behaviour management.
Apply proactive and systemic organisational changes, including:
• measures to detect and deter inappropriate or bullying behaviour from school leaders;
• regular and anonymous stress audits to be carried out in schools which are assessed externally and independently. Schools would have a duty to act on any concerns raised.
Encourage teachers to seek help by:
• challenging the stigma associated with stress and mental illness within the teaching profession;
• providing confidential in-house support services offering advice and guidance to teachers, possibly through the provision of trained mentors;
• expanding the provision of discreet and accessible counselling services, to which teachers are able to refer themselves;
• reviewing the current Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) for teachers;
• providing high quality support and training for school leaders on dealing with mental health issues.
The issue of mental health in the workplace was highlighted by the recent case of Peter Harvey, the NASUWT member who was cleared last month of the attempted murder of a pupil. The court heard how Mr Harvey, who was described in court by colleagues and former students professional as an ‘impeccable had suffered taunts and abuse from students following his return to work from a period of sickness absence caused by stress and depression. This depression had followed assaults by two students and threats from another. The court heard how Mr Harvey had sought from a colleague advice after becoming concerned about his own state of mind and on being advised to promptly contact his GP sought admitted assistance and did not return to school for several months. Mr Harvey
grievous bodily harm but was cleared of the more serious charges of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with medical intent after the court heard how he suffered a ‘complete mental breakdown‘ before attacking a student with a dumbbell. Speaking following the conclusion of the trial, Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The incident arose out of an explosive combination of events, a teacher who was in a fragile state of health and a group of pupils who recognised and exploited it. “Any teacher who has had to with challenging and pupils deal disruptive recognise combination of how, given factors will the that applied in this case, such a situation can easily spiral out of control. “There are clearly lessons to learned from this be case.
Employers need to be far more sophisticated in recognising and supporting teachers with mental health problems. The NASUWT will be pressing the Government to look at teachers receiving.” the
whole issue of sickness absence policies and the quality of support are receiving.
Sources of help
Members who feel their mental health is suffering as a result of work should seek advice and support from the NASUWT. The first port of call should be the NASUWT School Representative or Local Association who will be able to offer guidance and depending on the circumstances may refer the case to the relevant NASUWT Regional or National Centre or National Executive Member for further action. Contact details are on the NASUWT website.
The NASUWT also supports the Teacher Support Network, which offers free confidential counselling 24 hours a day to any teacher suffering distress or anxiety. To support members in protecting and enhancing their health and safety at work, the NASUWT has also launched an online wellbeing at work diagnostic tool which allows teachers and headteachers to test their wellbeing and receive practical advice on improving it.
The tool can be found at www.nasuwt.org.uk/Informationand Advice/HealthSafetyandWelfare/ TeacherWellbeingSurvey.
TSN can be contacted on:
• England – 08000 562 561 •Wales – 08000 855 088 • Scotland – 08005 642 270
The full report Teachers‘ Mental Health can be downloaded at www.nasuwt.org.uk/MentalHealthReport.
May 2010 Teaching Today 19