The Epidemic of Stress – By Ross McWilliam

22 February, 2018

A recent Guardian report (Jan 11th 2018) talks about  a warning from teaching unions of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3,750 teachers (one in 83 teachers) were signed off on long term sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness.

Altogether 1.3 million days have been taken off by teachers for stress and mental health reasons in the last four years, including around 312,000 in 2016-17.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned of an “epidemic of stress”…

  • Teachers work more unpaid overtime than any other profession.
  • Classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week.
  • School leaders routinely work over 60 hours a week.
  • It is the pressures of a punitive and non-productive accountability system.

It’s not just teachers who are being affected…

  • The most recent data from the Labour Force Study shows that in the past year 526,000 workers in the UK have suffered from work-related stress, anxiety and depression: a vast number resulting in 12.5m lost working days a year.
  • Workload is consistently cited as the most common reason for this ill health – tight deadlines, too much pressure and not enough time in the day to simply get the job done. But as our jobs are not going to change any time soon, it’s time to change ourselves.


So what needs to be done in education for staff…especially since we are also at the forefront of an unprecedented Govt injection of £300m into reversing child stress and anxiety?

We need an inclusive plan that:

  1. Puts mental health and wellbeing of staff firmly on the agenda
  2. Creates greater awareness of need and possible internal support pathways
  3. Promise consistent delivery of staff Wellbeing CPD
  4. Encourage greater staff empowerment i.e. support groups, signposting of wider outside school support pathways
  5. Create a school culture of support
  6. Re-write school policy to incorporate a greater emphasis on staff wellbeing


Let’s face it, we are not going to eliminate the epidemic of stress in the 21st century anytime soon, but we can certainly recognise its impact on teachers and begin to take account for it.

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Renowned growth mindset and behaviour management expert, Ross is a published author with over 30 years of experience in education.

He has trained at every level of education, in over half a thousand institutions and has reached over 300,000 students, parents and professionals to date in an extensive career driven by his fiery mantra that it’s never too late for anyone to improve and become the ‘best version’ of themselves.

Ross works with groups on specific interventions based around self-esteem, resilience, growth mindsets, emotion confidence, staff motivation, behabviour management, pupil and staff well-being/mentalhealth, communication and presentation skills, team-building and performance techniques.

He can also deliver training to large groups, with a combination of keynote speaking and active learning. Ross has published eight books on mindsets, writes regularly for various educational and performance journals and magazines. He recently spoke at the NAHT conference on Staff Wellbeing and has been described by Professor Barry Hymer as having a ‘classic growth mindset’ – Ross is taking a doctorate at the age of 56!

To find out how you can bring Ross into your school to deliver a quality training day, call 01790 755 783 today or email



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