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News / Over half of UK university staff report signs of depression

News / Over half of UK university staff report signs of depression

A report published this past fall in the United Kingdom warns of a mental health crisis facing the country’s university and college staff.

The report by Education Support, with support from the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), says over half (53%) of those surveyed showed probable signs of depression.

The union is demanding national action to address the impact of excessive workloads and unpaid work on workforce stress and mental health, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The report's other findings include:

  • almost eight in 10 (79%) respondents said they need to work very intensively, often or always
  • almost a third (29%) reported feeling emotionally drained from work every day
  • one in five academics (21%) work an extra two days (16 hours) per week on top of contracted hours.

The report, Supporting Staff Wellbeing in Higher Education, is based on responses received from 2,046 academic and academic-related staff.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “This report makes for stark reading, but sadly won't come as news to the thousands of university staff who have been pushed to breaking point by their own employers.”

“This crisis hasn't happened overnight, and staff have been calling for action to tackle unmanageable workloads for years. However, university management have been more interested in chasing student tuition fees, cutting pay and attacking pensions, leaving worn out staff barely able to cope.”

In November, UCU members at 58 institutions backed strike action in two separate ballots, one related pay cuts and the other over pay and working conditions.