University and HE staff struggling with mental ill health


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Four out of five staff in universities and colleges are suffering with poor mental health and struggling with increased workloads because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a union has said.

The survey by the University and College Union, published in The Guardian newspaper, found more than half of the staff surveyed (57.5%) said their workload had increased a lot, while more than a fifth (23.3%) were working a bit harder.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, LGBT+ and disabled employees were all more likely to report higher workloads and resulting stress.

The survey of more than 12,000 lecturers and professional services staff in universities and further education colleges also showed that nearly two-thirds (63%) were unhappy with the level of support from their employers, and more than a fifth (22%) were not receiving access to mental health advice.

A quarter (26%) of staff at universities and nearly half (46%) at further education colleges also said they did not feel safe at work because of coronavirus. The survey was conducted in December, just after the third lockdown.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Staff were already stressed and overworked before Covid, and over the past year they have had to deliver ‘blended learning’, while being forced to endlessly readjust their teaching plans. With spiralling stress levels and unmanageable workloads, the current situation is simply not sustainable.”

The union is calling on the government to invest more in mental health support and for employers to reduce workloads and do more to prioritise wellbeing.



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