Suicide prevention training needed, warns NASUWT

Teachers union NASUWT has warned a mental health crisis among teachers is leading to an increase in suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

On 31 March, the union reported that the incidence of suicidal thoughts and attempts to end their own lives are growing among the profession.

NASUWT also called for suicide prevention training to be introduced for all school leaders, along with mandatory, fully funded mental health training for staff in school and colleges. 

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT's general secretary, said that the education sector needs a "two-pronged approach to addressing the epidemic of mental ill health among the teaching profession."

He said the survey found the three biggest causes of work related stress were workload, pupil behaviour and poor management. 

"We have repeatedly set out to Government tangible measures which could help to improve teachers’ experiences of all three, but in a climate where the prevailing ideology has been of cuts, austerity and encouraging an autonomous command and control culture in schools, it is hardly surprising that the picture on teacher wellbeing has got worse," he added. 

NASUWT reported that suicides are one of the biggest causes of work-related deaths each year, but are not included in the Health and Safety Executive’s annual reporting or its inspection and protection regimes. 

Their wellbeing at work survey, which received nearly 12,000 responses from teachers, found that 85 per cent of respondents have felt anxious because of work and 84 per cent reported low energy levels.

One in ten teachers reported that work-related stress has led to a relationship breakdown. Nearly a quarter reported drinking more alcohol and over 10 per cent reported the use of or increased use of antidepressants.

Three per cent said they have self-harmed as a result of their work.

More than one in ten said they had sought counselling.

The most recent data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that among women, primary and nursery teachers had the fifth biggest mortality rate from suicide of all occupational groups. 

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