Staff Burnout

Burnout’ is a term used to describe chronic stress, and is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.’  

Source: Mental Health UK 

Burnout isn’t something which goes away on its own. Rather, it can worsen unless you address the underlying issues causing it. If you ignore the signs of burnout, it could cause further harm to your physical and mental health in the future. You could also lose the ability and energy to effectively meet the demands of your job which could have knock-on effects to the other areas of your life. 

Burnout is more likely to occur when work pressures combine with other stressors. The Burnout report 2024 explores some of the key factors that could significantly contribute towards burnout in the UK and highlight what can be done to help combat them. Source.

Burnout and Teaching

Research on stress for teachers is long-established, as is periodic media interest in teacher burnout and shortages within the profession, and stress is broadly understood as an interaction between the individual teacher and their environment. Teachers may be more or less personally equipped to manage stress at different points in their life, and schools may also bring higher or lower levels of stress upon their staff.

For example, teachers who feel that the leader of their school is supportive of them are generally less stressed (van Dick & Wagner, 2001) as are those who feel that their colleagues are supportive (Haly, 2009). Unsurprisingly, teachers perceiving a high level of classroom demand and low levels of resources report less job satisfaction and more plans to leave their posts (McCarthy, Lambert & Resier, 2014). 

Research continues to show how teacher wellbeing is being impacted by pressures of the job, wellbeing within the wider school community and consequences of the pandemic. The Teacher Wellbeing Survey Report 2022 conducted by NASUWT outlines these findings in full. 

Anna Freud have produced a booklet which offers practical guidance about what school staff and senior leaders can do to support their own and their colleagues' wellbeing, this document can be found here: Supporting staff wellbeing in schools and colleges. 

Mental health UK have a wellbeing plan template that can be used with staff that looks at what good wellbeing looks like for the individual, challenging times and what support they currently have. You can download a copy of this here: Mental Health UK Wellbeing plan.

Catalyst have produced a document based on the 5 ways to wellbeing, as a framework for school leaders to look at what their organisation does to support wellbeing, and what else they could do. You can download a copy of this here: Catalyst 5 ways to wellbeing worksheet.

Additional resources 

Stress bucket

Mental health UK have a stress bucket activity that may be a useful activity for staff members.

Image source: Discovery in action

Imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress. Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, but it’s important to find activities which help you release some of the water from the bucket to lighten your load. Ask your staff what helps them reduce stress, and how can they keep those activities going when other pressures build up.

Education Support 

Education support are a charity that support the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have a helpline teachers can call, and resources to support teacher wellbeing on their website. 


Worth-It provide tips to support teacher and school staff wellbeing including providing a Staff Wellbeing Toolkit which provides school mental health leads and school leaders with a practical evidence-based resource toolkit and online training programme that supports teacher wellbeing, develops positive mental health and reduces staff stress. 

and have lots of free and accessible CPD 

To watch

The BBC have teacher support videos ‘Confessions of a Teacher’ where real teachers talk about their experiences on common themes in the profession.

The following video explores teachers experiences of workload.

Teachers open up about mental health 

Kelly Hopkinson's TedTalk on the importance of self care for teachers


 Updated 06/02/2024