Cases of public school teachers suffering psychological maladies ease

Kyodo

The number of public school teachers who took sick leave due to psychological problems in the 2011 academic year fell slightly from a year earlier, an education ministry survey showed Monday.

The teachers who took leave due to such mental illness numbered 5,274 for the year that ended last March, down from 5,407 in 2010, for the second straight year of decline, according to the survey by the Education, Sports, Culture, Science and Technology Ministry.

But the latest figure was still about eight times that of 1979, when the ministry began the survey that mostly covered teachers at elementary, junior high and high schools. A total of 8,544 teachers took sick leave in 2011.

A ministry official said there is no basic change in the situation, in which demanding work schedules and communications with parents are inducing stress among teachers.

By age, the largest portion of those who took leave — 39 percent — were teachers aged 50 or older.

Among those who took leave, 45 percent were teachers who had been working at their current school for less than two years, suggesting some had difficulties adjusting to their new workplace.