Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said teachers must be given more support after new figures revealed they have taken nearly half a million days off for mental health reasons during the last three years.
Responses to a Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request showed that teaching staff and teaching support staff employed by councils have taken 477,005 days off due to mental ill health since 2013/14. The figures have risen year-on-year.
The party has claimed that this shows the need to reduce the burden on teachers and deliver mental health treatment at the point of need. The party recently highlighted that a key mental health waiting time has not been met in the two years since it was introduced.
Commenting Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“The fact teachers have taken nearly half a million days off work due to mental ill health paints a very worrying picture of a workforce that is under severe strain.
“On average, teachers in Fife took 6.5 days in 2015/16. The average teacher in Renfrewshire took a whole working week off due to stress, anxiety, depression or other such conditions.
“The fact that the numbers are rising year-on-year shows they are clearly not receiving the right support. It raises serious questions about the Scottish Government’s education and mental health policies.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case for taking mental health funding and support to record levels. We know mental health treatment isn’t available when people need it. Tens of thousands of people have waited longer than 18 weeks for the help they need.
“We have also called for a Penny for Education, raising £500 million that would fund extra support for both teachers and pupils, transform Scottish education and reverse our declining international standing.
“Our teachers work incredibly hard, inspire future generations and give them the skills they need to get on in life. It is time we supported them properly.”