How we help staff deal with their problems | Education Support
Coronavirus update: We continue to be here to provide mental health and wellbeing support to all education staff.

How we help staff deal with their problems

16th May 2019

Our latest research shows that our emotional support helpline has experienced its highest number of calls on record in the past year, particularly from NQTs and those who are new to teaching.  

The helpline's specialist counsellors dealt with 9,615 cases between April 2018 and the end of March 2019. But whilst the number of teachers struggling may be rising and many wait for a crisis before calling, we are encouraged at the significant positive difference users say talking to one of our counsellors has made. 

87% of users* told us they felt better equipped to deal with their problems after accessing support. We spoke to users who explained how the free, confidential emotional support we provide helped them.  

Three helpline users told us how it has supported them during difficult periods:

Miranda,** a secondary school teacher explained:

“I’m a very practical person. I love my job and as a teacher I just get on with things but after an operation that went wrong I was left with a lot of anxiety about what had happened and my financial situation after I had to take a lot of time off work.

“It was nice to talk it through with a professional and to talk anonymously and just knowing I could call again was really reassuring to know.”

Lauren,** a science teacher at a secondary school shared her experience of how the helpline helped her whilst waiting for NHS support:

 “I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for a while after a relationship break-up at the start of my NQT year. I then found the stress of the NQT year overwhelming and really struggled to get through it. I’ve tried various medications and had NHS counselling and for a while things were getting better. Towards the end of last year though, my mental health started to decline to a point that I was self-harming daily and having strong thoughts about ending my life.

“One day I woke up wanting to email my head teacher to say that I wouldn’t be coming in and that I was planning to end my life.  A friend encouraged me to see my GP and I was signed off work for a couple of weeks before the Christmas holidays. The thought of returning to work terrified me though, in particular the worry of how I might be treated by my head teacher and the possibility of losing my job. I found the Ed Support helpline so helpful during this time (and it kept me going while I was on the long waiting list for counselling in my area on the NHS). They helped me feel ok about returning to work and since then, I’ve opened up to my head teacher.

 “I’ve been really supported in my school, I have regular catch-ups with my head, have reduced my hours slightly on their suggestion and there’s no problem with taking time off for appointments. I went from being terrified of my head to being completely relaxed and feeling like I can be honest about how I’m coping. I’m still on the long road to recovery, but am doing it in a supportive environment, and I know that Ed Support are on the other end of the phone if I need it.”

And Paul,** a university lecturer who also found the support he received has helped him support others:

“The counsellor was very good, particularly in helping me to re-frame things and think about what was most important to me when things are increasingly chaotic in the workplace.

“This is helpful when I feel myself getting to this level of stress again. I can go back to it and think about how to approach things so I won’t get into the position that I’m not coping again.

“There’s a real feeling that you’re on your own. Autonomy is a good thing but you’re increasingly blamed when things go wrong.

“Following the counselling I’m also now a lot more aware of how others might be struggling too and so I will ask colleagues and others if they’re ok.”

You can find out more about how and why teachers and education staff use our helpline from our Helpline Annual Report 2018/19

Remember - act early

If you are feeling overwhelmed, worried, anxious, fearful or uninterested in life then call 08000 562 561 immediately – no matter how insignificant you feel your symptoms might be. Acting early and taking a proactive approach to your wellbeing is always the best approach for you, your colleagues and the children and young people who depend on you.


*Based on those who responded to ESP’s online feedback and evaluation form.

** Names have been changed.