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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Teachers use drink and drugs for stress
Teacher generic
Teachers and support staff have admitted feeling stressed
Teachers and other school staff are turning to anti-depressants and alcohol to cope with rising stress levels.

A survey in a north Wales town has revealed serious problems among the teaching staff.

More than 2,000 questionnaires were sent out by Wrexham Council after concerns were raised by the Health and Safety Executive.

The council received 600 replies from teaching and administrative staff working in schools across the county borough.

Of those surveyed, 10% said they were taking some form of anti-depressant and 30% said they were drinking more alcohol than they used to.

A previous survey, carried out in 2001 by the Office for National Statistics, identified 25% of the UK population had raised or 'hazardous' patterns of drinking.

It's a picture of reality and it needs to be tackled
Paul Davies NASUWT

"I think the problem of teaching stress has grown," said Paul Davies, Wrexham secretary of the NASUWT.

"In this survey 77% said they were fatigued, 64% said their workload was impossible and 30% dreaded going to work.

"It's a picture of reality and it needs to be tackled," he added.

More than a quarter of respondents questioned admitted suffering from raised blood pressure levels and high numbers reported muscular pains and headaches.

Wrexham Council estimated that absenteeism through stress related illness cost the education authority around 200,000 a year.

Workload

Staff who responded to the stress survey also claimed they were underpaid, overworked and did not receive sufficient support from the local education authority, nor from management.

Mr Davies, a teacher for more than 25 years, said the two main problems that need to be tackled are excessive workload and a perceived lack of discipline among pupils.

On Tuesday, councillors will consider an action plan to tackle the issue which includes subscribing to a helpline for all staff run by the Teacher Support Line Cymru.

The service, which would complement the occupational health service, would cost up to 20,000 per year.

It is proposed that the local education authority funds the first year of provision in the hope it will reduce sickness costs by up to 20%.




SEE ALSO:
Teachers freed from humdrum tasks
01 Sep 03  |  Education
Schools get staff cash support
15 Jan 03  |  Wales
Teachers hold out on workload
14 Jan 03  |  Education


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