Following on from Emma’s attendance at The Royal Foundation’s Mental Health conference yesterday, some interesting questions arose around the anecdotal increase in frequency and severity of mental health issues presenting in trainee teachers.  The Duchess of Cambridge and her charity’s staff were interested in receiving more quantitative data to support these observations.  In light of this, we would be incredibly grateful if you can take a couple of moments to complete the following poll.

As well as completing the poll, if you have any thoughts, theories or comments on why you may be seeing changes, please make a note of these in the comments section of this blog post.

This is one of those occasions where your voice really could make a difference so please take the opportunity to engage – many thanks in advance for you time.

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  1. Kirsten Webber on February 14, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Whilst we are seeing increased frequency, it is not easy to determine if this is because there are more people with mental health issues or more people willing to be open about their mental health than in previous years or because of the increased focus on mental health, do some identify normal stress as being a mental health issue? We suspect it is all of the above but very difficult to objectively quantify. I have noticed more candidates for 2019-20 openly discussing their mental health, usually identified by them as anxiety.

  2. Jo Pearson on February 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Trainees are more likely to present with notes for stress in particular over recent years

  3. Helen Ostell on February 14, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    This is the first year we have really encountered issues with a small group of trainees rather than one or two. We have analysed the profiles of these trainees quite carefully and for us there is a definite correlation between those who are very high academic achievers and those who suffer from anxiety.

  4. Sally Price on February 14, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Whilst disclosures have increased I sense that since we have encouraged those embarking on ITT courses to explore their own mhwb issues more, with support where necessary, in order best to cope with the challenges of the job and role model healthily to young people in schools, it would be wise not to be alarmed by the increase in disclosures, rather focus on the training of ITT trainers and partners in schools in MHWB awareness in order best to support them. This is the long view and aimed at sustained and healthy engagement with teaching.

  5. Sharon Chester on February 14, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    We have seen an increase in trainees presenting with mental health concerns. Some only need the opportunity to talk and make us aware, others need more expert help and have accessed SCITT or University well-being services. It may be that the changing national climate around mental health has given trainees the confidence to acknowledge when they are struggling. We have introduced individual well being meetings this year which have also given trainees a mechanism by which they can raise concerns; several have acknowledged anxieties around personal and professional issues.

  6. Joe Burkmar on February 15, 2019 at 9:06 am

    We have seen a huge rise in trainees reporting anxiety. This is pretty predictable in terms of timing in the year, but still has an impact on the cohort and on the attendance.
    We have looked into a counsellor and have made 7 referals to in school support over the last 3 years (average cohort of 24).

  7. Niall Dosad on February 15, 2019 at 9:06 am

    It is difficult to say whether both have increased, as although it certainly represents as such, is it that we are all much more aware and it is much more approachable as a topic.

  8. Derek Boyle on February 15, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Trainees are more open about coming forward with mental health issues, which is pleasing to see and we are spending more time providing coaching and mentoring around work load management and the interface between having a healthy work/life balance.

  9. Sam Steward on February 15, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Like others, I’m noting that frequency has increased but link this to greater awareness and openness about discussing issues relating to mental health and wellbeing. We have a cohort size of between 23-31 each year and don’t yet see any pattern emerging with regards to student profile and likelihood of experience mental ill-health. More serious cases have had no correlating features and have involved a ‘high achiever’ and a working parent with a previous, but undisclosed / not apparent at point-of-interview, history of mental ill-health. We offering coaching services internally which support and more targeted support is available through our partner HEI for more serious concerns.

  10. Gina Farmer on February 15, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Subjectively, we have seen an increase in frequency but not severity. We are now analysing trends. As per other comments here, those trainees who are open and honest, either from application / interview stage or post occ health screening, are easier to support. From our own internal research we know that often the questions asked at occ health screening are based around whether trainees have ever been treated, rather than suffered. We believe this is the reason that the current screening process is not picking up issues.

  11. Tim Connole on February 17, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    We have seen an increase this year, especially with younger men. I’m not sure, however, that there is any particular pattern – all their issues are different and not necessarily related to workload or anxiety. Reflecting other comments we do have our best qualified cohort academically and some have struggled with their perfectionist instincts. I’m not sure it’s as simple as that, however.

  12. Ania Glowczynska on February 20, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    It is hard to judge. I would definitely confirm that mental health issues are more visible but that may be to caused by society education and people putting name to the issue which they didn’t before. It is hard to determine

  13. Julie Bennett on February 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    We identify an increase in those presenting with anxiety & depression both in terms of pre-course identification and during training, with the impact of training exacerbating existing conditions which prior to training were considered ‘well-managed’. While ’cause and effect’ is hard to determine -particularly with greater awareness of mental health needs and a focus on wellbeing- observation would suggest that the challenges of the ITT year affect those with existing mental health needs adversely, and the impact of stress is more pronounced for those candidates.

  14. Amy Harper on February 25, 2019 at 10:09 am

    We have seen such an increase that we have invested in training for our staff on how to deal with mental health issues. It is having a big impact on trainee attendance…mental health related absence is the highest contributor to our attendance figures, over physical illness. I don’t think that this is something that is specific to teaching, I believe that there is more openness about and awareness of mental health and people are more transparent about it as a result.

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