Supporting mental health for teachers


Mental health support for teachers is an important issue. You might need support from your school because of the impact that mental health is having on your wellbeing and performance. 

Employers have a ‘duty of care’. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. This includes:

  • Making sure the working environment is safe
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Carrying out risks assessments

Mental health for teachers is a growing issue with research from Education Support stating that 75% of all education staff have faced physical or mental health issues in the last two years because of their work and 53% have considered leaving as a result.

In this article we relay advice from ACAS on creating an environment where staff can talk openly about mental health, look at whether mental health can be considered a disability and link to the Education Support helpline and other resources.

Schools creating a supportive environment

ACAS explains that it is helpful if employers create an environment where staff feel able to talk openly about mental health. For example:

  • Treating mental and physical health as equally important
  • Making sure employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers, to talk about any problems they’re having
  • Encouraging positive mental health, for example arranging mental health awareness training, workshops or appointing mental health ‘champions’ who staff can talk to

ACAS states that there are many types of mental health issue. An issue can happen suddenly, because of a specific event in someone’s life, or it can build up gradually over time. Common mental health issues can include:

  • Stress (this is not classed as a medical condition but it can still have a serious impact on wellbeing)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Less common ones include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

We have a range of support articles in our Knowledge Base to support with improving work-related stress, work-life balance and more topics.

Mental health for teachers: can it be considered a disability under the law?

ACAS explains that a mental health issue can be considered a disability under the law if all of the following apply:

  • It has a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on the life of an employee (for example, they regularly cannot focus on a task, or it takes them longer to do)
  • It lasts at least 12 months, or is expected to
  • It affects their ability to do their normal day-to-day activities (for example, interacting with people, following instructions or keeping to set working times)

ACAS states that a mental health issue can be considered a disability even if there are not symptoms all the time, or the symptoms are better at some times than at others. If an employee has a disability, employers:

  • Must not discriminate against them because of their disability
  • Must consider making reasonable adjustments

We have published another support article which provides further details on the topic of reasonable adjustments in schools.

How do I raise my mental health issue with my school?

You might feel anxious talking about your mental health with your line manager. Fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons teachers give for not telling their colleagues about their mental health problems.

If you are an Edapt subscriber, we can support you with advice and guidance with talking to your school about how your mental health is affecting your role. 

Mental health for teachers: resources and helplines

  • Education Support has free telephone support and counselling from trained experts you can access
  • The Mental Health Foundation has a selection of top tips for teachers for creating mentally healthy schools. It explains that creating mentally healthy schools will always be a task for the whole school community rather than one individual
  • Mental Health at Work has a range of resources to support employers in creating workplaces which support mental health

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.