A teaching union has warned more staff could leave the profession early if steps are not taken to protect their mental health.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said a failure to protect the mental health of teachers would increase the likelihood of illness in staff.

His comments come after an evidence review by the NHS, which looked at a number of national and international studies into the mental health of teachers.

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The review said mental well-being in teachers has an impact on pupils – adding teaching is considered one of the most stressful jobs.

Mr Flanagan said: “This review is a significant publication which makes a useful addition to the evidence on work-related stress and its impact on teachers’ mental health.

“The review highlights the absence of school-level interventions to support teachers’ mental health and makes clear that this can have a significant impact both on the well-being of teachers and, additionally, on the learning experience and educational outcomes of pupils.

“As the review notes, a number of major EIS surveys in recent years have highlighted the large numbers of teachers who are experiencing high degrees of stress as a result of their jobs.

“This is an issue that must be tackled or we will see an increasing number of teachers becoming ill, experiencing burnout and being driven from the profession prematurely.”

Three of the studies cited were commissioned or carried out by EIS, one of which – produced last year – showed 60 per cent of the more than 12,000 teachers who responded said they were “frequently” stressed and 17 per cent said they were under pressure “all the time”.

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Mr Flanagan added: “The last major survey that the EIS conducted, in late 2018, was as part of our Value Education, Value Teachers pay campaign.

“This important and highly representative survey was the largest study of teachers’ views for many years, with 12,250 teachers from across the country taking part.

“While the major focus of that campaign was on improving pay, the responses from teachers to the survey made clear that severe workload and stress were major issues of concern.”