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Newcastle Uni staff referred to counsellors up by 126 per cent in six years

Due to an increase in mental health problems amongst staff

According to a study conducted by The Guardian, the number of Newcastle Uni academic staff being referred to counsellors has risen by 126 per cent over the last six years.

The study looked at the staff at 59 universities in the UK and revealed that the growing numbers of staff being referred to counsellors is not only seen at Newcastle University.

The University of Warwick had a 316 per cent increase, Kent rose by 292 per cent, 172 per cent at Brunel and 88 percent at Bristol.

It appears that it is not only university students in the midst of a mental health crisis, but also the academic staff.

A range of factors are given as explanation for the rise, including the overworking and underpaying of staff, leaving them incredibly stressed.

Staff said they do not have enough time to prepare for all of their teaching: this means teaching is either under-prepared, or, more often than not, staff work unpaid overtime to ensure their teaching is still held to a good standard.

A member of academic staff from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology told The Newcastle Tab: “If colleagues are being referred [to counsellors] like this, it is likely that it will not be widely known as there is still stigma around mental health.”

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A 2018 global survey conducted by Times Higher Education (THE) of university staff views on work-life balance found that academics are feeling increasingly stressed, underpaid and struggling to find time for personal relationships. The study indicated that the workloads of academic staff, such as lecturers, is rising, with two fifths of staff surveyed stating that their working hours have increased over the past three years.

The survey also found that academics are twice as likely as professional staff (such as admissions officers) to work ten or more hours per weekday: 40 per cent of scholars say they do, compared with 20 per cent of professionals. 31 per cent of academic staff and 27 per cent of administrators said they work on both days over the weekend.

49 per cent of academic staff stated they work one day over the weekend compared with 37 per cent of professional staff. Two fifths of academic staff work over six hours at the weekend, compared to just 15 per cent of professional staff. THE found that an unmanageable workload is often blamed for rising stress and anxiety levels.

THE’s survey also discovered that 31 per cent of male academics and 26 per cent of female academics found that their work negatively affected their mental health.

According to the survey, a professor at a research university in the Midlands stated that his workload and work pressure has: “driven me to attempt suicide on multiple occasions”. A senior lecturer at a post-92 university said that his university leaves him “no time for personal life”. He also added: “it is a cancer that eats away your life”.

Academic staff also indicated in THE’s survey that their job has impacted their romantic relationships: 62 per cent of academic staff said that their partner viewed their academic careers as at least a little detrimental to their relationship. 11 per cent viewed it as “very detrimental”.

A lecturer at a Russell Group University in the South West of England said: “My terrible working patterns […] led to the breakdown of my partnership”.

71 per cent of staff have indicated that their mental health has been affected by the uncertainty of employment.

According to the mental health charity MIND: “Once aware of health or disability information, employers have legal duties to consider making reasonable adjustments.

“They also have a general duty of care and responsibility for employee health and preventing personal injury. However, adjustments should be made to help all staff cope and recover, whether or not they have a formal diagnosis.”