Thousands of days lost to stressed-out teachers

Edinburgh City Council said 79 months had been lost in the past year to teachers taking time off for mental health problems.

THOUSANDS of Scots teachers are claiming long-term absence due to stress-related illness.

Lack of control in the classroom and uncertainties surrounding job security are amongst the reasons psychologists say are causing this growing epidemic.

Edinburgh City Council said 79 months had been lost in the past year to teachers taking time off for mental health problems.

At one school in Aberdeenshire the head teacher was signed off for 981 days with stress before returning to work.

In Renfewshire, 51 teachers were signed off on long-term sick leave for more than 28 days with psychological problems.

In Fife stress was to blame for 95 long-term absence in 2011.

Thousands of working days were lost last year to teachers taking long-term absence due to stress, depression , anxiety and mental fatigue.

Psychologists blame a mixture of factors for the number of stress-related sickies.

Dr Cynthia McVey, a psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University claims uncertainty surrounding job security and the introduction of a new teaching framework in Scotland add to teachers stress.

She said: “Control is a big factor in stress and teachers seem to have very limited resources in disciplining children, the days when you could give a child a row and have gone to some extent in some schools.

“Curriculum for Excellence has also caused problems as I believe some teachers may not agree with the changes and again, that is stressful.”

Last month one Scottish teacher received a six figure pay out after her employer failed to lesson her work load, leading her to suffer from “stress related psychiatric injury.”

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the payout was the largest amount of compensation one of its members had received from stress-related injury.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teacher’s Association, said the job was more stressful than ever.

“It’s much more difficult to get supply teachers as people are not prepared to work for 40 percent of their previous salary and there is not the same money available to pay for supply.

“The situation has largely deteriorated largely due to local of funds, Many councils used to have a dedicated welfare officer, but few still do because that was one of the jobs they could cut. That’s had a huge effect.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: The Scottish Government expects council to take appropriate action at t local level to minimise the risk of stress or injury and any related claims through their own local health and safety procedures for staff and pupils.