More than half of university staff are likely to show signs of depression, a survey shows.
According to a survey by the Education Support charity, nearly three in ten (29%) university employees feel emotionally drained from their work every day.
More than three in four (78%) of academics, non-academic leaders and professionals in higher education believe that employee mental health is not as important as productivity.
The burnout risk of university staff is high and psychological well-being is “significantly lower” than population norms, the report says.
The survey of 2,046 academics and related staff at UK universities in March found that 29% had values for average well-being and 53% for probable depression.
Yet almost three in five (59%) fear that they will be viewed as weak when seeking support for their wellbeing.
Common barriers to getting wellbeing support have been lack of time due to a heavy workload and an inflexible schedule.
One respondent said, “I am afraid to access anything that could show that I am having trouble.”
Dr. Siobhan Wray, one of the lead researchers, said, “These results are important. They underline the need for urgent action to improve well-being in higher education.
“Our results show the types of support that are likely to help institutions address the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and ‘better build’ them for a healthy and productive workforce.”
Respondents often commented on how the switch to online classes and the pressures of the pandemic in general have created pressure.
Some respondents pointed to the difficulties they had in teaching students online, while highlighting the increased need for pastoral support for students with mental health problems.
Sinead Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support, said, “University life has been turned upside down in the past 18 months. In addition to the enormous impact on student lives, we see enormous pressure on university staff. “
University and College (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said, “This report is great read, but unfortunately it will not be news to the thousands of university staff marginalized by their own employers.”
A spokeswoman for Universities UK (UUK) said: “The health, well-being and safety of all employees and all students is a priority for universities.”
Roshan Israni, vice chairman of the UCEA employers’ association, said: “Universities continue to value the well-being of employees during the ongoing pandemic.
“They adjusted quickly in the spring of 2020 to support their workforce in all functions, and they continue to do so after the majority of employees returned to campus.”
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