Teachers in UK Facing Mental Health Crisis, Many Looking to Switch Jobs

British teachers are suffering panic attacks in class, working long hours, and many are desperate to leave the profession, according to recent reports. A study by a mental health charity, Education Support, found that teacher well-being had collapsed, and many suffered from insomnia and excessive stress. Moreover, 78% said things had worsened over the past five years.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) surveyed 12,000 female teachers last year and found that some had even considered suicide. Figures showed that 23% drank large quantities of alcohol in their free time, 12% were taking antidepressant drugs, and 3% had engaged in some form of self-harm. At a subsequent union conference, members voted to establish support measures and a suicide prevention program.

Furthermore, Department of Education data shows that 9% of the profession walked away from the classroom between 2021 and 2022.

Sinéad Mc Brearty, the head of Education Support, said, “There are a lot of people who really are just broken by this career.”

The situation is similar in the US, where many states are experiencing a teacher shortage. After the tumultuous pandemic, the number of educators leaving the profession was at record highs. Furthermore, like the UK, data shows high levels of stress and unhappiness among US teachers.

A Facebook group for teachers shows that most of those considering leaving the profession do so because of stress related to student behavior. Excessive bureaucracy is also high on the list of problems. Both reasons are likewise frequently cited in the British data.

Last year, research by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University found there were 55,000 teaching vacancies nationwide. The teacher-to-student ratio varies significantly from state to state. Vermont topped the list with 94.8 teachers per 1,000 students, whereas Arizona came last with just 43.8 teachers. Salaries also vary, but the US average is $68,000. For the 2034 – 2024 school year, 45% of public schools reported being understaffed.