All You Need to Know About Teacher Stress [21 Stats for 2020]

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While there are plenty of top 10 most stressful jobs lists floating around the internet, no two are the same. 

Now:

They all mention enlisted military personnel as the most stressful job, followed by surgeons, commercial airline pilots, and news broadcasters. 

Surprisingly, teachers keep bobbing in and out at tenth place or under on the list of most stressful jobs in America, while in the UK they’ve steadily held third place for a decade.

In contrast:

Teachers themselves describe their jobs as the most stressful job there is. Here, we take a look at teacher stress levels, what causes them to spike, and the resulting burnout. 

But why is teaching so stressful

Let’s see what the stats we assembled at Mark in Style have to say:

Depressing Teacher Stress Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • 250,000 additional teachers will be needed in the US by 2026.
  • 90% of new teaching job openings are caused by teachers abandoning the profession.
  • Up to 61% of teachers are actively considering finding a different line of work.
  • 50% of those leaving the education workforce do so due to stress-related reasons.
  • Teaching is considered to be the third most stressful occupation in the UK.
  • 47% of teachers report experiencing depression, anxiety, or panic attacks due to work-related stress.
  • 90% of teachers reported that Ofsted inspections were creating added stress.

Most Stressful Jobs: Teacher in the US

1. There will be a need for almost a quarter of a million additional teachers in the US before 2026.

(American University School of Education)

The number of needed teachers is forecast to rise across the entire sector in the US. For elementary school and kindergarten, the number of new job openings will rise by 7%, opening 116,300 new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. 

Regarding middle schools and high school, the number of teaching jobs will increase by 8%, bringing the total to 124,100 new jobs for teachers.

2. At 8%, attrition rates are highest in the United States.

(American University School of Education)

The number of workers lost to attrition is significantly lower in the countries that manage high retention of 3% to 4%, such as Canada, Finland, and Singapore. That percentage goes even higher depending on the state or the district that is observed. 

Additionally, it’s much higher in areas where new teachers don’t get adequate support in the first years of employment.

3. Between 19% and 30% of new teachers leave within the first 5 years due to teacher stress and burnout.

(American University School of Education, LPI)

You might be wondering:

What is teacher stress? 

Unfortunately, plenty of factors contribute to creating a stressful environment and make teacher stress the leading cause of abandoning the teaching profession.

That’s also what causes the burnout phenomenon, which leaves people feeling spent, powerless, and undervalued. 

There are two ways teacher burnout can occur: 

It can happen quickly at the beginning of one’s career, while learning and adaptation are quite overwhelming. 

Along with the first-year teacher stress, another case of burnout develops over time. 

That being said:

Both are classified as being caused by high-stress levels and exhaustion, followed by the inability to cope and resulting in the decision to leave. 

Key takeaway:

A staggering 90% of new openings are caused by teachers stressed to the point of abandoning the profession entirely. Click To Tweet

4. 61% of high school teachers report actively planning to change their profession.

(LPI, CNBC)

High school teachers are most likely to leave their job. About six in ten say they are thinking about leaving teaching for good and list the lack of support, inadequate pay, and lack of respect from the parents, students, and administration as the main issues. In 2017 and 2018, nearly every state had a shortage of teachers.

5. 22% of teachers think the pay they receive is inadequate, teacher stress statistics confirm. 

(CNBC)

When listing the reasons to quit their job, 60% of teachers said pay is unfair compared to the amount of work put in, which is often higher than 50 hours a week, and the additional stress of the financial strain is too high. 

While the answer to the question is being a teacher stressful may be obvious, the levels of dissatisfaction and financial stress are not nearly the same with a significant, sometimes even a double pay gap between various states and districts.

6. 13% of teachers who left voluntarily cited pay or benefits as the reason for leaving.

(Gallup)

Starting off as a teacher and dealing with student debt can be quite daunting. It should come as no surprise that many young teachers are overwhelmed and consider themselves underpaid. 

That being said:

Compared with other workers, teachers still left their positions at a surprisingly lower rate than other professions, where that rate is 24%.

7. 50% of those planning to quit teaching say they will do so because of teacher stress.

(American University School of Education)

29% of teachers leave their profession for private reasons, health, relocation, and similar causes. 

Out of those that left for reasons related to the job, 16% were laid off, and 84% left on their own. Those leaving on their own list stress and career advancement as the main reasons for leaving.

Teacher Stressors and the Causes of Teacher Stress in the UK

Teacher stress in the classroom

8. Teaching is one of the top three most stressful occupations in the UK.

(National Education Union)

Did you know that one in five people in the UK is extremely stressed at work? 

In fact:

That stress causes over 11.5 million lost working days each year, which in turn costs the economy 10% of the gross national product. Teachers are consistently third in terms of stress levels, right behind healthcare workers and uniformed services.

9. 80% of experienced teachers suffer from work-related stress.

(Education Support) 

A stress epidemic is gripping the UK education workforce, as eight in ten teachers report high levels of work-related stress and the negative impact it has on their overall mental health.

10. 76% of British teachers experience behavioural, psychological, or physical symptoms caused by their work.

(Education Support)

When that number is compared to other UK employees, there is a 16% difference, as 60% of people describe their jobs as highly stressful. So, developing stress management for teachers needs to be looked into closer.

11. 47% of teachers report experiencing depression, anxiety, or panic attacks caused by work.

(Teacher Wellbeing Index, Education Support)

In  2017 and 2018, there was a significant rise in mental health issues in the education workforce.

Here’s the scoop:

57% of stressed teachers thought of leaving the profession due to rising health issues. Some of the main teacher stress symptoms were insomnia, which increased to 56% from 41%, and mood swings accompanied by irritability, which saw a rise from 37% to 51%.

Additionally, over 40% reported tearfulness, lack of concentration, and forgetfulness as recurring symptoms.

12. Signs of depression rose to 40% among senior leaders in education.

(Teacher Wellbeing Index)

Senior leaders have a greater chance of suffering from all of the listed symptoms than other education professionals. The number of those reporting symptoms of depression rose from 25% to 40% from 2017 to 2018.

13. 29% of UK teachers work more than 51 hours a week.

(Education Support, Office for National Statistics)

While the national average is 37.5 hours a week, teachers in Britain work 14 hours more than those employed in other sectors, which is a major cause of teacher stress.

And that’s not all:

74% of stressed teachers said they were unable to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance, as they were unable to switch off after long working hours.

14. 47% of teachers with mental health symptoms were absent from work for over a month during the course of one year.

(Education Support, Teacher Wellbeing Index )

Teacher stress research shows 31% of educational workers experienced a mental health issue in the past year, and 3,750 teachers in the UK went on a prolonged sick leave during 2017.

Over 40% believe having that amount of time off will reflect negatively on their students.

15. 74% of teachers claim they don’t receive enough mental health guidance at work.

(Education Support)

Teacher stress management is not getting enough attention, as 65% of teachers aren’t comfortable mentioning their health issues and teacher stress levels to their superiors. 

It gets worse:

36% feel they have no support at work regarding their mental health.

Sadly, this does not come as a surprise, given that 64% of schools do not conduct surveys of staff wellbeing.

16. 81% of teachers thought about changing the profession in the last year because of excessive workload.

(National Education Union)

The National Education Union took a survey in 2017 to find an answer to the burning question:

What causes the most stress for teachers? 

Here’s the deal:

The research found that teacher workload and stress are tightly connected. Answering why is teaching a stressful job and what causes the workload to be too much to handle, 74% of questioned teachers said it was the pressure to improve the student’s grades and test scores.

Additionally, exam stress statistics reveal 52% said what causes most problems are assessments and changes to the curriculum and exams. 

Next:

The unsustainable workload that added to the usual stress of teaching was in the opinion of 46% caused by Ofsted, mock and other inspections, while 41% blamed the lack of resources and money. 

33% stated the reduced numbers of the support staff added to their workload. Finally, 33% said the demands of school leaders and governors contributed to work overload. Those who wish to leave the classroom but stay in the education sector often turn to education management jobs.

17. UK teachers work an average of 12.1 hours of unpaid overtime weekly.

(National Education Union)

Working hours that go into overtime are stressful on their own, let alone when they are unpaid. And teachers were one of the groups with the most unpaid hours in 2017. 

As many as 51.8% of them were working an average of 12.1 hours without pay. Primary school teachers were most affected, reporting 18.8 hours of overtime, significantly more than their experienced colleagues.

Up to 75% of class teachers said they found teaching stressful when over an average week they work anywhere between 49 and 65 hours. 73% said this had an impact on their physical health, while all of them agreed about the huge toll it takes on their mental health.

18. There was a 35% rise in the number of teacher calls made to ESP’s emotional support helpline in 2018.

(Education Support, Teacher Wellbeing Index )

In the period between April 2017 and March 2018, the number of cases that the hotline received was 8,668. Out of those calls, the Education Support Partnership marked 357 callers as being at risk of suicide.

19. 77% feel their declining mental health is affecting their students’ progress in a negative way. 

(TES)

The $64,000 question is:

How does stress affect teachers’ performance? 

And here’s the answer:

There is no doubt teaching and stress combined lead to a lack of productivity and energy.

Up to 94% of stressful teachers reported a visible drop in their classroom energy during the times when they were stressed. Click To Tweet

And their creativity was heavily impacted. 

What’s more:

77% felt it had a detrimental effect on their students’ performance.

20. 90% of teachers reported that Ofsted inspections were creating added stress.

(National Education Union)

Half of those questioned did not believe the inspections were beneficial for school improvement, while 84% said they created a significant amount of added workload that added to teacher stress. Only 7% found them to be an improvement.

Unsurprisingly, the inspections that led to schools being deemed in need of improvement were the ones that caused the most stress.

Now:

Ofsted tried reducing teacher stress in the classroom by issuing new guidance. But while 85% of teachers were aware of it, they said it made little difference, with only 5% saying the new guidance was beneficial to their work-life balance.

21. The overall lack of respect was the reason for giving up on teaching for 10% of the working force.

(CNBC)

In total, 52% of all teachers said they feel valued by their wider community but not by the administrators and the district or the students and their parents.

But both teachers and parents agree on one thing: 

The vast majority of those questioned in 2018 would not like to see their children go into the educational working force.

Teacher Stress Is Becoming an Epidemic

Education stress needs to be reduced, whether through mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher training, the introduction of neuroeducation and microlearning principles, or just by providing fair pay and sustainable working hours. 

The primary causes are work overload and work-life imbalance. A long list of additional factors makes a new approach to stress relief for teachers more necessary than ever. 

Let’s face it: 

There is a limit to how much the working force can be simply replaced with new staff before we completely run out of people who want to teach. And good teachers are essential to our children’s future.

Sources:

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