Stressed teachers are turning to drink

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Stress at work is leading some teachers to become increasingly reliant on caffeine, alcohol and prescription drugs, while a number have seen relationships breakdown, it has been suggested.

A new poll indicates that more than four-fifths of school staff think that their job has had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing in the last 12 months.

It is clear that for too many trachers the job is taking an unacceptable toll on their lives

Given a list of issues and symptoms they may have experienced, some 84% of those polled by the NASUWT teaching union said that they have lost sleep due to their work, while three in four (54%) have experienced anxiousness and a similar proportion (74%) reported low energy levels.

More than a fifth had been turning to alcohol more often, and the same percentage (22%) said they had increased their caffeine intake.

Just under a fifth said they had lost their appetite and over one in 10 (11%) said they had started to use, or increased their use, of anti-depressants.

Around 9% had had a relationship break down, while around 7% had started to take, or were taking more, prescription drugs. One NASUWT member said: “My husband has left me because I’m always working”, and another said that their teaching job had led to the breakdown of a 16-year marriage. A third said: “I lose sleep worrying. I feel guilty if I am off sick or not working evenings and weekends.”

More than half of those polled (56%) by the NASUWT, which is meeting for its annual conference in Manchester, said that their job satisfaction has declined in the last 12 months, 37% said it had stayed the same and the rest said it had improved.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “It is clear that for too many teachers the job is taking an unacceptable toll on their health and this is affecting all aspects of their lives.”