Stress drives heads to drink

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The Independent Online

One in five headteachers has turned to drink and nearly one in three has resorted to prescription drugs to cope with stress, according to a survey published yesterday.

One in five headteachers has turned to drink and nearly one in three has resorted to prescription drugs to cope with stress, according to a survey published yesterday.

More than one-third have suffered serious stress-related illnesses including bulimia, high blood pressure and heart problems, the survey of Warwickshire heads found. Others had taken tranquillisers or undergone counselling.

Heads said the "horrific" findings provided a snapshot of conditions across the country.

The study of 150 heads and deputies found one in three believed stress had serious implications for family life. Tiredness and long hours strained marriages and led to separation and divorce. Five heads had resigned and one in six was looking for less stressful work. Overall, 22 heads said they depended on alcohol, while another eight said they drank a significant amount each day.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "These figures are horrific. But this is a situation which could be replicated across the country. Warwickshire ... has had a good report from Ofsted. But the stress is horrific and I think many of these figures will be repeated in many other areas of the country. There's an imbalance between support and pressure from the Government which is causing this workload, causing the stress."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said the findings were reflected in calls to his union's helpline.

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