Eastern Region Young Teachers’ Weekend
Tackling Stress
This talk is about:
• The impact of work stress on the health and well-being of
• Causes of stress in the workplace.
• Potential symptoms of stress.
• What to do as an individual if you are experiencing stress
• What employers should be doing to reduce stress. The employers
duty of care. The HSE Management Standards for Stress
• What is workplace bullying and how can you tackle it.
• Things the school community can do to build a 'healthy school' for
all employees.
• The benefits of being a health school v. the costs of being an
unhealthy one.
• If you feel uncomfortable……
Who am I ?
Link To Video
The impact of work stress on the mental health and well-being
of teachers
Stress has been described by the HSE as “the adverse reaction
people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand
placed upon them”. Although stress itself is not a disease, it is
recognised that excessive or prolonged stress can be a cause of
mental and physical illness.
HSE research has found that one in five people – an estimated 5
million workers – is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed at work, and that
stress, anxiety and depression nationally lead to more than 12
million lost working days each year. The International Labour
Organisation has estimated that the cost of stress to the British
economy amounts to over ten per cent of its Gross National
Product (GNP).
Over the past ten years, studies have consistently found that
teachers are amongst the most stressed workers in Britain.
Teaching was rated the most stressful occupation by HSE in
2000 (42% of teachers highly stressed at work compared with
20% in population as a whole).
Between 2003 and 2006 National Statistics reported that the
highest levels of occupational stress, depression or anxiety were
amongst teachers and were double the level for ‘all
Around half of all ill-health retirements take place for
stress/psychiatric illness.
You Gov research in 2007 found that stress had led to half of all
teachers considering leaving the profession. A survey of
London teachers in 2006 found that four-fifths envisaged stress
causing them to leave in the future.
Half of all new teachers entering the profession leave within 5
Suicide rates amongst teachers are 40% higher than within the
population as a whole. (Source – Samaritans)
Causes of stress in the workplace.
‘Crazy About
Work’ identified main causes as:
• Excessive or unmanageable workload.
• Excessive monitoring. (OFSTED, Performance
Management, Data Collection, Observation, Local
Authority Monitoring, etc.)
• Disruptive pupils.
• Harassment or bullying.
• Fear of violence.
• Lack of control over their work.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Management Standards:
• The Demands of your job.
• Your Control over your work.
• The Support you receive from managers and
• Your Relationships at work.
• Your Role in the organisation.
• Change and how it is managed.
Potential symptoms of stress
Acute anxiety
Feeling isolated
Migraine/severe headaches
Loss of confidence/self
Skin complaints
Panic attacks
Stomach problems
Mood swings
Lack of motivation
Loss of appetite
Suicidal thoughts
Other Examples:
Inability to make decisions;
Poor concentration;
Unhealthy eating or drinking;
Inability to set priorities and manage tasks;
Breakdown in good relationships in or out of work;
Sources of information
– Self-help questionnaires (NUT, Teacher Support Network Stress
Test - https://tsn.custhelp.com/cgibin/tsn.cfg/php/enduser/doc_serve.php?&5=87
– Close family and friends;
– Trusted colleagues.
Stress does not only have psychological
Link To Video:
What to do as an individual if you are
experiencing stress symptoms
• Work longer and longer hours trying to chase demands.
• Keep your stress feelings to yourself.
• Blame yourself for being under stress because ‘everyone else
copes’ – They don’t.
• Put your work before every thing else.
• Discuss your stress with someone you trust. Close family, friend or
trusted colleague.
• Seek help from organisations like your trade union or the Teacher
Support Network. (They will always give confidential advice and
• Take medical advice from your GP. (Most GPs are very well aware
of teacher stress)
• Set a limit for your overall working hours and if you are unable to
meet demands within them report this to your
manager/headteacher. (It is reasonable to keep at least one full
day at the weekend and a couple of evenings ‘work free.’)
• Report your stress to your line manager/head teacher.
• If you feel unable to report excessive demands or stress consult
your trade union.
• Try to eat sensibly and take regular exercise.
What employers should be doing to reduce
stress. (The employers duty of care.)
(Who are the employers?)
• Finding out about stress levels of all staff.
• Stress Risk Assessment. (i.e. Identifying stress hazards and
putting in place a plan to minimise or remove the hazards.)
• Taking pro-active steps to reduce stress and improve
• Responding appropriately to reported stress.
• Recognising that the stress experienced by senior
managers can lead to increased stress for other staff.
• Creating a open climate where reporting and discussion of
stress is welcome.
• Ensuring senior managers are properly trained to tackle
• Leading by example.
What is Bullying?
• When does strong management become bullying?
• Are you being bullied?
• What kinds of behaviour constitute bullying at work?
In a Healthy School:
The climate:
– Allows everyone to discuss how they are feeling about work;
– Demands that everyone should be treated with respect
– Welcomes and respects the expression of professional views.
Everyone is involved in decision making.
No one is bullied.
Time is set aside in the school day for rest and relaxation. (The staff
room is relaxing place to be. An empty staffroom is a sign of an unhealthy
Managers know how many hours their staff are working and plan to
improve work-life balance.
Managers are aware of potential stress hazards and take action to
minimise them.
Change is managed over a reasonable timescale and does not add to
overall work demands. (i.e. new tasks are only introduced after
discontinuing old ones)
But, in a Healthy School
The evidence shows that:
Staff turnover is lower (staff are retained);
Recruitment is easier;
Staff absence levels are lower;
School results are better.
(Source: Teacher Wellbeing)

Eastern Region Young Teachers Weekend 20 Nov 2010