Teachers in crisis: 400 calls for support every day


THE Queensland Teachers Union says there has been "unprecedented" levels of contact from teachers dealing with impacts of COVID-19 with psychology support services  "stretched by the sheer volume of requests"

QTU president Kevin Bates said with more than 400 calls a day, teachers were using emails, phone calls, social media and web inquiries to access information about how to deal with COVID-19 related matters of "a personal and professional nature".

Mr Bates said while support was provided through QTU and the Queensland Department of Education's Employee Assistance Scheme (EAS) those services were "stretched" due to the volume of requests "pouring in over the past three weeks as the COVID-19 national emergency has evolved".

"On one day last week we had 50,000 hits on our website when the usual number is historically under 100," Mr Bates said.

A Brisbane psychologist, who did not wish to be named, said a high number of teachers were reaching out for support over "confusion" relating to COVID-19 guidelines.

The psychologist said concerns ranged from "teachers themselves being very concerned about exposure to the virus as well as schools being overwhelmed with questions from parents".

"Teachers had to do a lot of calming and dealing with parents who were feeling confused and angry."



With the "bulk of concerns" concentrated on issues "emanating from the southeast corner (of Queensland), Mr Bates said the QTU was working with Education Queensland and other unions to "support the psychological health and wellbeing of employees in schools".

"Like so many members of the community, the events of 2020 have had a substantial negative impact on the psychological health of teachers and principals in state schools," Mr Bates said.

"With three significant events - fires, floods and now a pandemic - teachers and principals are bound up in a cycle of managing the fears and anxieties of students, other school staff, parents and community members at the same time as practising self-care for their own psychological wellbeing."

QTU President, Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU
QTU President, Kevin Bates. Picture: QTU

Mr Bates said the uncertainty and rapidly changing government advice around COVID-19 had been "particularly stressful for principals who are managing a new world of education this week".

"Principals will continue to lead their schools as next term unfolds - whatever that may look like, depending on this pandemic's progress," Mr Bates said.

"The QTU is working closely with all members in leadership positions in schools to support their work in leading the state education system and caring for the critical school workforce at this difficult time."

The News has contacted the Department of Education for comment and will update when this is available.

Originally published as Teachers in crisis: 400 calls for support every day

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