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Path to Better Health and Wellbeing Flyer_final Version_print Readyv2

Path to Better Health and Wellbeing Flyer_final Version_print Readyv2

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Published by: teachersupport on Feb 08, 2010
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The path to better health and wellbeingin education
Path to better health and wellbeing flyer.indd 111/3/09 11:31:11
 
Introduction
It is widely accepted that health and wellbeing problems are prevalent in the UK education workforce in particular among theteaching profession. However, there has been considerable debate over the best solutions to these problems.As a result, Teacher Support Network has undertaken research and stakeholder consultation in order to make informed
recommendations in this debate. Our ndings are presented in this document.
We conducted a nationwide wellbeing survey of the workforce between October and November 2008, asking the professionalsthemselves for their views. The survey – completed by 777 people via our website and e-newsletter - also developed asnapshot of the current state of health and wellbeing in the workforce. The answers backed up what Teacher Support Network
sees day after day through its free, condential support services:
87 per cent of teachers had suffered from stress in the last two years. Two-thirds also said that they had experienced
anxiety and 42 per cent had suffered from depression in the same period.Over 60 per cent of respondents said that issues in their workplace were responsible for these feelings.
Problems such as trouble sleeping (82 per cent) and lack of concentration (53 per cent) were widespread, and some
respondents had even considered suicide. Understandably, these symptoms were having a damaging impact on their work
performance (g 1).
Have the feelings you have experienced resulted in any of the following?
The scale and signicance of health and wellbeing problems in the teaching profession are clear. Problems are prevalent and
they are having a costly impact on students, colleagues and the individuals concerned. Taking time off work, for
example, disrupts learning, puts colleagues under even greater stress and is extremely difcult for the professional in
question.W
e presented these ndings to other key education and health and wellbeing specialists for
discussion. In November 2008, we hosted a roundtable meeting with the National Director forHealth and Work, Dame Carol Black, to take into account the expertise of key stakeholders,
including: the DCSF, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, IOSH, HSE and all of the leading
teacher unions and related bodies.The meeting followed a visit by Dame Carol Black to Teacher Support Network’s ContactCentre, which took place shortly after the release of her review of the health of 
Britain’s working age population in March 2008.
D
etails of our ndings from the survey and roundtable meetingare set out in the following pages. These ndings have been
carefully considered to produce essential recommendations forimproving the health and wellbeing of the education workforce,
relating to: training, development, policies, procedure
and the overall culture in education.
!
Fig 1
Path to better health and wellbeing flyer.indd 211/3/09 11:31:12
 
!
Fig 2
Summary – 2008 wellbeing survey and roundtable meeting 
Causes
O
ut of the survey respondents who stated that their experiences of difculties, such as stress, were caused by issues in their
workplace, over 78 per cent stated that it was due to excessive workload. 43 per cent stated that it was due to the rapid
pace of change (g 2).
Can you identify the main issue in your workplace that caused these feelings? 
A number of roundtable participants argued that teaching, like other professions, was inevitably stressful. Nevertheless, allagreed that urgent attention needed to be given to the way in which schools and government treat the causes andoccurrences of stress. It was pointed out that some of the best schemes for minimising stress were in the private sector,where employers are open about the possibility of stress and actively provide and promote support for it.
Of vital importance to the success of such support was the early identication of stress and other common mental health
problems, enabling people to act quickly and prevent the rapid deterioration that can follow.
Case Study
When Kate contacted Teacher Support Network advisors she was suffering from many of the problems highlighted in our
survey results. Having accepted a promotion to Senior Teacher she was nding her workload too much to handle. However, asHead of English and in the process of being trained for assistant Head she did not want to cause any trouble. As illustrated by
the survey results, Kate may not have felt this way if the managers in her school worked with their staff to reduce workloador her school leadership team were more approachable.Kate was regretting having taken the position as she was not aware that she would be given so little extra time to undertakeher additional duties. Kate is not alone with these feelings. Over 78 per cent of respondents to our survey felt that excessiveworkload had caused their feelings of stress and anxiety. Over 34 per cent said that their feelings were due tounreasonable demands from managers.Having explored the options available to her, Kate decided she wanted to approach the Head about herworkload but was afraid that it would affect her chances of future promotions.
Our coach explored how she could approach the Head with a positive and condent manner and be
proactive by making suggestions as to how to resolve the issue. It was also suggestedthat her union may help clarify what workload should be expected or be reasonablefor her position. They also looked at how Kate could be more assertive and whatwork could be delegated to others.Kate’s problems are not unique and many teachers feel stressed and anxious owingto excessive workload and unreasonable demands from their manager. Beingunable to approach their line managers or colleagues for help can be a cause of further stress.
Path to better health and wellbeing flyer.indd 311/3/09 11:31:13

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