16 November 2023

Staff Mental Health

Education Support has released their Teacher Wellbeing Index for 2023 and the findings are concerning.

We have pulled together some FREE resources, webinars and content around supporting and advocating for staff mental health and wellbeing with a focus on ensuring the systems in place are inclusive to everyone’s needs.  

Education support has highlighted through their research that 78% of school staff feel ‘stressed’ (89% of Senior Leaders and 78% of school teachers). This is alarmingly high though isn’t something which comes as a shock to me personally. I work with hundreds of schools nationally and hear first-hand the impact the education profession is having on teachers’ mental health and well-being. The most common reasons being a feeling of not having enough time to fulfil their role and work-related stress which is impacting their work life balance. Something must change! 

In my experience, the issue does not rest with the willingness to support staff; the issue is far deeper. In most cases, there is some form of staff support system in place, but the main issues stem from a lack of inclusivity and knowledge about staff mental health. Staff are generally told if you need support, you can access it here with no real effort to commit and advocate for them - a tick box activity, if you will.  This often results in staff prioritizing their workload over their own mental health needs because they fear and feel they don’t have the time to spare. Reviewing staff workload is one of the top priorities which needs to take place in schools. Teachers are so far stretched and working long hours often outside of their contracted school time, here you will find a role stress risk assessment to aid your ability to manage and review staff workload [click here].  

Reviewing staff’s current workload is all but a reactive to need measure its vital that preventative measures are in place to support staff. There needs to be a real culture shift in the understanding of staff mental health in schools. The most common practice I see is this; ‘we have an employee assistance program in place where people can seek out a counsellor to talk to’. However, the issue here is that we're assuming all staff want to talk. What about those who are experiencing vicarious trauma? Trauma cannot be talked away; it is not a cognitive memory but something that is stored within our bodies and our nervous system. It’s this lack of understanding and knowledge that hinders the support systems in place and therefore staff engagement in them. There needs to be an understanding of how our mind and bodies work together, particularly for those who are experiencing vicarious trauma to establish how best to support staff or how best to support oneself. We have developed some FREE webinars which will help in grasping an understanding of this:  

Another common misconception in schools is that supervision is a part of their staff mental health and wellbeing strategy. It's so important that we take the time to acknowledge the difference between supervision and clinical supervision. Supervision often comes from a place of job-related performance, it drives appraisals and targets, and it is often delivered by line managers or SLT. Clinical supervision is very much from a focus of mental health and wellbeing and is delivered by a qualified Clinical Psychologist.  You can access more information around this and request more information about our clinical supervision hub [here]. 

Finally, it’s vital that your support systems are accessible both internally and externally. This is how you ensure that your current support system is inclusive of everyone’s needs. Some staff will feel more open and able to engage when accessing support from an external service provider because they worry less about shared information within the school. However, some staff will find the option of external service providers daunting and anxiety provoking, much preferring to access systems which are internal to school, where their environment is more familiar to them. Having a system in place for both ensures an inclusive and impactful support system.  

What would my next steps be?  

  1. Focus on auditing what you currently have in place, paying attention to both internal and external support systems. Develop a Service Support map; this will help you to map what’s currently in place and spot the gaps which need to be filled.  
  1. Sending out a staff survey to capture their voice. Allow staff to make strategic changes and not just capture numerical data.  
  1. Review and recap knowledge. Share the above webinar around vicarious trauma and follow this up later with the staff mental health and wellbeing: practical strategies training.  
  1. Review staff workload and work with staff to establish capacity. 
  1. Establish as a whole school your next steps to further improve and aid your staff mental health and wellbeing – make it a priority area and not a tick box activity. 

If you would like any of the above training/webinars delivered live remotely as part of a dedicated CPD or INSET day please contact SMHLT@Innovatingmindscic.com 


For any questions or further information about the topics covered in this blog, please email: SMHLT@innovatingmindscic.com







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