Thousands of school staff days lost due to mental health issues in teachers

Mental health issues in teachers have meant that tens of thousands of days were lost in 2017/18

As reported by Press and Journal, nearly 33,000 school staff days were lost in 2017/18 in the north and north-east due to mental health issues in teachers.

According to Highland Council, 11,781 days were lost due to mental health reasons. This number was beaten only by Fife (12,127 days) and Glasgow (a whopping 16,127 days).

The figures were retrieved by the Lib Dem party under the Freedom of Information legislation.

Shetland Lib Dem MSP, Tavish Scott, said: “These figures show that since 2015/16, almost 400,000 staff days have been lost for mental health reasons. Year after year the number lost has risen.

“The pressure on classroom teachers is obvious. Teaching unions are worried by falling teacher morale, the top-down approach to education by central government and the impact of testing regimes on classrooms.

“This pressure has to be a factor in the growing number of absences caused by mental ill health.

“In 2019, the Scottish government must turn over a new leaf and work to reduce the pressure on Scotland’s overworked school staff.”

Dr James Vance, interim head of education at Highland Council, added: “I am saddened to see the rising national trend in school staff absence.

“With well over 2000 staff and with 203 schools spread over such a large distance, our absence figures are always going to be attributable to a wide range of factors.

“In seeking to address these we will continue to work with our school-based line managers so that they can also support staff to return to health and work and to work with our Occupational Health Provider to provide support for staff.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson commented: “There is a range of assistance available for teachers if they need support.

“Each school has a senior leadership team who can provide confidential guidance.

“All council employees including teachers can contact the employee assistance programme.

“It provides confidential one on one support through a counsellor and is tailored to ensure everyone is receiving the best and most appropriate assistance.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “It is important that all public sector workers providing frontline services are in the strongest position to deliver those services.

“Although it is for local authorities to ensure all of their staff, including teachers, have access to the necessary mental health and wellbeing support our 10 year Mental Health Strategy outlines a range of actions aimed at ensuring everyone in Scotland can get the right support when they need it most.

“We have also taken decisive action to reduce teacher workload and recruit additional teachers to avoid any additional burden on existing staff.”

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