DfE staff survey reveals extent of mental health and bullying concerns

Neil Puffett
Monday, December 8, 2014

More than half of staff at the Department for Education are suffering from moderate to high levels of anxiety, a survey has found.

More than a third of staff at the Department for Education reported high levels of anxiety. Picture: Janaki Mahadevan
More than a third of staff at the Department for Education reported high levels of anxiety. Picture: Janaki Mahadevan

An annual study of staff views at the department found that 34 per cent of staff – equating to around 1,075 of the 3,163 respondents, reported anxiety levels of between six and 10 on a 10-point scale with 10 being "completely" anxious.

A further 21 per cent, equating to around 664 people, reported moderate levels of anxiety between four and five on the scale.

A total of 45 per cent reported lower levels of anxiety – of between zero and three on the scale.

Meanwhile, hundreds of staff at the Department for Education have reported being either harassed or bullied in the past 12 months, it has emerged.

A survey of staff at the government department found that nine per cent (equating to around 285 people reported experiencing bullying or harassment in the last year.

Out of these, 96 said the bullying had been committed by their manager, and 74 said it was by another manager in their part of the department.

In terms of workload, respondents were split on whether they had too much to do, with 54 per cent either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement "I have an acceptable workload".

By comparison, 27 per cent said they either disagreed, or strongly disagreed with the statement.

However, despite apparent concerns, 48 per cent said they would recommend DfE as "a great place to work", compared with 20 per cent either disagreeing, or strongly disagreeing with the statement.

The 3,163 staff responses represent 95 per cent of the total workforce.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, said the figures suggest that anxiety is prevalent among staff at the DfE.

"Our own recent research found 56 per cent of workers said their work life was very or fairly stressful, which indicates that unfortunately these problems are common across the board, regardless of the industry you work in," she added.

"However, there are some factors that are affecting people in the public sector more than those in other roles.

"We know that people who work within public services have demanding jobs to do, so it’s vital their employers support them through difficult times, particularly in the current economic climate when many people are concerned about funding cuts, redundancies and increased workloads."

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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