Yorkshire teachers turn to alcohol, caffeine and even prescription drugs ‘to cope with workload’ union warns

Chris Keates. General Secretary of the NASUWT.
Chris Keates. General Secretary of the NASUWT.
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STRESSED TEACHERS in Yorkshire are turning to medication, alcohol,tobacco and caffeine to help them cope with their workload, according to a union survey.

The findings published today by the NASUWT to coincide with their annual conference show 25 per of teachers in the region report increased use of alcohol, 20 per cent an increased use of caffeine and five per cent increased use of tobacco to help them manage work-related stress. And 11 per cent of Yorkshire teachers use or have increased their reliance on prescription drugs.

The NASUWT survey said 12 per cent of teachers say they have been prescribed anti-depressants to help them cope.

Half say have seen a doctor in the last 12 months as a result of work related physical or mental health problems, 17 per cent have undergone counselling and four per cent have been admitted to hospital.

The union added: “shockingly, three per cent of teachers say they have self-harmed as a result of work-related pressures.”

The figures have been released as teachers at the NASUWT’s Annual Conference in Birmingham debate a motion condemning the destructive impact of excessive workload on teachers’ mental and physical health.

The Yorkshire and Humber figures are a snapshot of the union’s Big Question results, based on 523 online responses from teachers in the region.

Comments from Yorkshire teachers include: “Extreme excessive workload resulted in a breakdown. I was off work for six months. Now on maternity. Don’t know how I will cope with pressures when I return. Considering leaving teaching. It is not a job that you can do with a young family.”

Another said: “I am constantly on edge and worried about excessive observation and scrutiny and a preoccupation with targets and unacceptable marking policies.”

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Yet again we have shocking figures about the toll the job is taking on the health and wellbeing of teachers and school leaders.

“It is unacceptable that given the increasing scale of the problem, there is still no sign of either employers or the Government taking any effective action to address this.

“Instead of offering support, in far too many cases we see employers introducing punitive and callous sickness absence policies.”