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Last year teachers lost 1.5 million days due to stress and mental health – FE News


Teachers lost a staggering 1.5 million days to mental health and stress last year, new figures revealed by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

This is up seven per cent on the previous year and almost a fifth on three years ago, prompting warnings of a growing “mental health epidemic” facing the teaching profession.

The data is based on freedom of information requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats, with responses provided by 143 of the 152 local education authorities in England and Wales. In total, more than seven million teacher days have been lost to stress and mental health in the past five years.

The figures show a steady increase in the number of days taken for mental health reasons over the past three years, suggesting the Covid outbreak has led to a significant extra workload for teachers. The Lib Dems have demanded that the Covid inquiry examine the loss of teachers and pupils caused by the disastrous handling of schools and exams during the pandemic.

The party is also calling for stronger mental health provision for those on the frontline throughout the pandemic, as well as a more generous catch-up scheme available for children who miss out.

Some districts have seen a particularly sharp increase in the number of teachers missing time due to poor mental health. In Kent, 91,679 school days were lost in 2021-22, more than anywhere else in the country and almost five times the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of teachers in Hampshire who were denied mental health leave rose to 28,945 in 2021-22, a third more than a year earlier.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson said:

“These figures show a growing mental health epidemic among our teachers, who have been under unimaginable pressure over the past few years.

“Too many teachers face burnout due to excessive workloads and relentless pressure. Parents will rightly be concerned about the terrible impact this could have on our children’s education and well-being.

“It is the fault of the Conservative government, which through its incompetence repeatedly confuses teachers and students.

“The new Education Secretary must develop a clear plan to address years of damage to teachers’ mental health and wellbeing, and to help recruit and retain the staff we need.

“The Covid inquiry should also examine the impact of the government’s mishandling of the pandemic on the mental health of teachers and other frontline workers.”

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