Around 5% of teachers in England are suffering from a mental health problem that has lasted, or is likely to last, for more than 12 months.
The analysis of data from over 20,000 teachers and education professionals reveals this is up from just 1% in the 1990s.
However, the Nuffield Foundation-funded study found this increase in reported mental health problems can also be observed for other professionals.
For instance, nurses, accountants and HR workers are also much more likely to report suffering from a long-lasting mental health problem than they were in the 1990s.
5% of teachers in England are suffering from a mental health problem that has lasted for more than 12 months compared to 1% in the 1990s
(Source: UCL Institute for Education/Nuffield Foundation)
The researchers suggested the increase could be due to teachers – like many other professional workers – being more willing to talk about such issues and to seek help.
This was consistent with the team’s finding that there has not been any increase or decrease in unhappiness, anxiety or feelings of low-self-worth among teachers over the last decade.
Lead author Professor John Jerrim, from the UCL Institute of Education, said: “The results from our study may therefore not be as worrying as they first seem, if it means more teachers who are struggling with their mental health are now getting help. However, more needs to done to monitor and improve the mental health and wellbeing of the teaching profession – similar to the commitment that has been made to track teachers’ workloads over time.”
Sinéad Mc Brearty, chief executive at Education Support, the UK’s mental health and wellbeing charity for education staff, said the sharp rise in teachers reporting long-term mental health conditions mirrors the increase in the severity of cases that the charity supports through its counselling helpline.
“Teachers are presenting with ever more severe mental health symptoms,” she warned.