Teachers are 'cracking' under mental health pressure in Suffolk

Simon Whitney of NASUWT, Graham White, of the NEU, and Ezra Hewing

Simon Whitney of NASUWT, Graham White, of the NEU, and Ezra Hewing of Suffolk Mind all say there is an increase in teachers feeling mental health pressures. - Credit: Simon Whitney/Graham White/Gregg Brown/Canva

Teachers facing rolling lockdowns and last-minute government announcements over the last two years are starting to feel the increased strain and experiencing "very high levels" of mental health issues. 

Simon Whitney, deputy Suffolk secretary of the teachers’ trade union NASUWT, explained teachers, like other key workers, have not stopped during the pandemic. 

And with the high workloads and last-minute Covid changes, Mr Whitney, agrees with the charity Suffolk Mind that there are increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression among school staff in the county.

Simon Whitney, deputy Suffolk secretary of the teachers’ trade union NASUWT

Simon Whitney, deputy Suffolk secretary of the teachers’ trade union NASUWT - Credit: Simon Whitney

Mr Whitney added: "It's absolutely true stress levels among teachers have increased from a very high level already throughout the pandemic. 

"Teachers have been in school all the time either in the classroom or teaching online.

"They have been worrying about bringing Covid back to their own families during this time as well. 

"And with that, Ofsted do not seem to be making allowances for teachers off sick and isolating."

Graham White, press officer for Suffolk National Education Union (NEU), said teaching and support staff should be retained

Graham White, press officer for the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union (NEU) - Credit: Graham White

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Graham White, press officer for the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union (NEU), said: "People suffer and cope and then they crack and eventually they go off long term sick and this costs money in the end.

"It's increased by a lot. There is the fear of getting Covid for them, for their families. This is why staff were so keen on getting the vaccination and face coverings and social distancing.

"And now social isolation is ending, there is a lot of pressure on what they do there."

To combat teacher's suffering from mental health issues, Suffolk Mind is offering a wellbeing support to teachers called the emotional wellbeing in the classroom course, which provides primary school staff with the tools to better identify signs of mental ill-health and advice on how to improve wellbeing.

Ezra Hewing for Suffolk MIND feature.

Ezra Hewing from Suffolk MIND - Credit: Gregg Brown

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, added: “Teachers have continued to work incredibly hard in the face of the pandemic and it is vital we give them the skills they need to support the wellbeing of themselves and of the whole classroom.”

It is hoped the course will also help teachers provide better wellbeing support to their pupils.

Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind, said: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for pupils of all ages who have had their education disrupted by the virus."

More info is available here suffolkmind.org.uk/product/emotionalwellbeingintheclassroom.