Keeping my job is very difficult....if it wasnt so difficult, I could concentrate on getting better


Ive not been here a long time, im a secondary teacher of Science, and ever since I was in hospital last year my employers have plagued me constantly. Had information passed back and forth from my consultant to employers, i went back to work last April after 4 months in hospital and worked til end of term, then went back again (after another hospital admission July) in Aug, through to October holidays. Ive been signed off since, but now my employers are trying to end my contract through long term incapacity. The whole time I have been worried about this any people kept saying my job was safe, and not to worry. Now it turns out I do need to worry. They either want me to resign amicably, or they will terminate my contract as its coming up to six months from October. This is just one more thing I couldnt handle. After my meeting I ended up back in hospital

22 Replies

  • Oh my goodness that's awful. Was your hospital admission related to your depression? School based employees are posting more and more on this site about how they are not being supported. It makes me so angry. We have one of the most stressful jobs in the world, yet we are condemned for suffering any type of mental health related issue. Are your union supporting you?

  • Yes all my admissions were due to depression, complicated grief as my boyfriend died, and post traumatic stress. But I have even phoned pupils from my bed at one point I was so worried. I was told by unions they have very little influence over independant schools so are unable to help

  • Hi Emms sorry your going through all this. I can't offer any help as

    Regards School as I live in Ireland, just make sure to get help from

    Your Union. I do remember your illness was quite complicated and

    I suppose you have to make a decision to get all the help you can

    And get well. It must be very pressured teaching if your not well.

    Hope things improve. A bit for you, do you have any support? Hope so.


  • I can only concentrate on my illness and getting well if I know my job will be safe to go back to after. Its just too much to think about. Unions dont help with independant schools

  • Hi Emms,

    It's good to hear from you. I've wondered how you were getting on.

    It's awful to hear that after everything your school are letting you down. As Lucy says those of us who work in school have one of the most stressful jobs and if we can't support each other ... :O

    I've no real advice, love. I just wanted to offer my support. Keep plugging on with yr union and any support you have. I understand how important yr job is to you - my job is my world, my only sane space - but your life and health are more important in the long run.

    Take Care


  • Unions are useless and powerless with independant schools

  • Hello, this must be very difficult for you. It would seem from what you have written and from reading past posts that your job has provided you with constancy and stability in the face of your mental illness and now even this is under threat. It doesn't seem right that you were told how safe your job was and now that it isn't. The other side of the coin is I guess that it is actually a very stressful job and from reading through your posts you clearly do have some very complicated aspects to your illness, so maybe this could be an opportunity for you to seek out further help as maybe a break from such stress inducing situations could work for you. It's a catch 22 though isn't it becuase if your job is keeping you ticking over then it will not feel good to be faced with losing it and I can really understand you feeling like that. I don't know what sorts of therapy you have tried, but in our area they have such things as residential therapy which can provide a structure for you or some therapies that are 2 or 3 days a week which would provide some routine along with obviously the actual help of the groups. It could beworth your enquiring about this, Maybe with the support of a union some sort of compromise could be reached with your employers ,eg of you taking time out for therapy but to have your present pay grade for example guaranteed for when you were ready to return to teaching? Gemmalouise :)

  • I never found my job too stressful when I was well, before Neil died. Just couldnt handle it with the suicidal thoughts, cutting, and depression and hospital admissions, but I have been back, and my pupils have improved on their expected grades, and my job is still unsafe. I dont even care if they dont pay me while a supply teacher is used. But I just cant handle losing everything, in the meeting I went to I felt like I was being disciplined

  • Emma! So glad you're back, I've missed you around here.

    Is there any way you could reduce your hours or go through a phased return? Maybe make your job less stressful? Depression does fall under the Disability Discrimination Act so your employer has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to allow you to keep your job. Is there anything you could ask them to do? Like Gemma says, get them to allow you time off for therapy?

  • That would be the plan always after being off sick, do a phased return, but they had told me last time I did a phased return some students suffered, as I could not be with them all the time (i.e. I only taught upper school classes, for a few weeks, and the lower school were left with no one...). So they have decided the adjustments made didnt work, and for that reason, even after trying only once, (and getting them all through exams with higher grades than expected,. and teaching a downs syndrome child to play the piano, and organising field trips....they still want rid of me. Its the mental health connection. Im a science teacher, working in a religious school. I had a horrible meeting, felt like I was being disciplined for all my time in hospital. They only offered two options: 1) leave by amicable agreement asap. or 2) they terminate my contract on grounds of long term incapacity

  • Can you look for part time jobs in state system? Depression won't necessarily be a barrier to getting a job, I got a new one recently and it wasn't a problem.

  • Im unable to do anything at the minute, let alone look or apply for jobs, I cant eat, sleep, hardly move, the only thing I can do is keep wishing I was dead, and cutting although its helping less now and im having to do it more. I find it hard to leave the house unaccompanied (i.,e. which made that meeting much harder), even to the local mental health walking group. And I cant teach in the state system as I am unqualified.

  • Hi

    Sorry you are having such a hard time of it in relation to work! I wonder do they have a Human Resources department where you can discuss your situation? Whilst I can understand a school needing stability in terms of teaching staff, you also have rights and it sounds as if they are not handling your situation with much sensitivity. You deserve to have an opportunity to discuss it thoroughly with someone representing your employers so you can jointly look for the best possible amicable solution - which may be taking voluntary redundancy or some way of ending your contract that does not reflect badly upon your record or may be offering you part time hours and/or counselling. Also they may be willing to offer some severance pay.

    In terms of your admissions I wonder about the kind of support you are getting between them? Are the local mental health recovery team involved in your care? They may be able to help and support you through the process of leaving work and help you to look to alternative kinds of work too if your long term prognosis is not good enough to return to teaching. I imagine it's all quite stressful and distressing for you to think about but if the reality is that the stress of teaching makes you ill, or if other stresses make you unfit to teach, then it may be better to come to terms with that and think about what else you might do. Unfortunately the world is not ideal and teaching is stressful at the best of times, so if doing so is too much for you then leaving work might be the only alternative - however impossible to contemplate.

    I'm sorry if that all sounds harsh, but there is little point in fighting reality. At the moment you are struggling and your employers are unlikely to be in a position to hold open your job so it a shame people kept your hopes of them doing so alive.


  • I didnt find teaching stressfull at all, I loved it. I worked for a very small rural school, five - 10 pupils per class, excellent behaviour, none of the usual stresses. I only became ill four years ago when my boyfriend died, and i developed complicated grief disorder and post traumatic stress, and was hospitalised with clinical depression most of last year. But in between I went back, and did a lot of work to improve the school. No HR department, its run by a religious body, of a closed faith i,e, the Exclusive Brethren; so they do everything themselves, have no occupational health or anything. I have to talk directly with trustees. I went to a meeting with them, and I felt like I was being disciplined for letting the school down. I tried really hard to find them a supply teacher even when I was in hospital, I phoned them from my bed because I knew they would have no one covering me.....they all got excellent grades. And it was all I had to hold onto, that one day if I survive, I may be able to get back to what I enjoyed. But now all that has been taken away. Theres no going back. They have kicked me out on terms of incapacity due to long term illness.

  • Hi

    How unusual to have been teaching in school with such small classes, no wonder you loved it! It sounds gorgeous. It's sad that your boyfriend died, I can imagine why you became depressed and it seems so unfair that now you have been kicked out despite having done so much to try to put things right. In your situation I would be really angry - that my boyfriend died and about the way it has altered my life so drastically. I do feel for you. I wonder whether you have had any help with dealing with the grief?


  • This sounds very sad for you. I think what you probably need to do now then is to look at whether you can go back to teaching at another school in the future. I am sorry if this is a daft idea as I don't know the rules of teaching but what I am saying is don't make it the end of the road for yourself if this is what you want to do. Does this mean you are permanently barred from teaching, or just at that school? Maybe after a time of therapy you will be able to return somewhere else or if this isn't possible maybe look at something similar such as 1-1 home tuition ; don't give up and don't feel bad or admonished ; its just the way the rules have worked in this particular case. Look into your rights if any as to pay grades and so on if and when you return somewhere else. Sorry I can't be more help but I did want to show support as I can imagine this feels very bad for you at the moment. Gemmalouise

  • HI, It Happens in life.Try in some other school, you will get an opportunity in some other school..Hope now you are Healthy enough to work.Don't loose hopes.

  • I can only work in independant schools, it took me a long time to get that job,its not just like a shelf stacking job that I can pick up somewhere else. Nobody will interview me at the moment, I cant do anything but stay in my bed and cut, and wish I was dead, I can only leave the house accompanied (which is why meeting was so stressfull too), and I dont eat or sleep. Only left hospital two weeks ago. So I dont know what to do

  • hi

    my situation is similar, my employer is factory. i was off of work last February (depression & lower back) and then again from September until December, one month at work and off again... had to attend Welfare meeting every three weeks. meaning of welfare meeting is (everyone puts their preferable thoughts here), reality is three questions- how are you? what we can do for you? when you are coming back? also they make sure that you understand it is 'tick the box' procedure.

    had seen ocupational health nurse. after being of for four months they send me to ocupational health doc. i told him whole my story (HR had not been told about my suicidal stuff and other things). the letter from doc in details about me and his conclusion was in HR when there was our next meeting....

    i already had two Capability meetings. i was already very well explained why, what etc. and possibilities of emplyees resigning themselves. after third one i will be laid off. factory employs 600-1200 employees and there is no way for them to find anything for me...

    when they can't benefit from having you, you become waste...

    i sought lawyer, he said there in paperwork no where is mentioned anything about terminating contract. and also that i have to pay if i go ahead with any legal stuff related to employment. simply can't afford.

    i have another part-time jobs but money is so small. i guess i will not get anything from jobcentre either as i have that part-time job...

    future is not bright at all.

    thanks for being there and supporting.


  • Emms, are you a member of one of the teaching unions, and if so have you contacted them? I would hope that they would be able to help you with all of this.

    I had some long term sickness - anxiety and depression caused partly by personal circumstances and partly by work that resulted in my being signed off for a very long time. My employer let the period of sick cover (through insurance) come to an end and then it was a question of looking at dismissal on the grounds of incapacity. Fortunately I didn't have to go through that as I managed to get my employer to agree that I could do some voluntary work whilst I was still on sick leave and managed to find a job elsewhere, partly through that, where I could work part-time and build up my hours.

    It is a really scary place to be because your job gives you your financial security and it does get really difficult to think straight about things. I was also going through a long drawn out divorce (no children involved, than goodness) but I'd been the breadwinner, and I was still really feeling the loss of my father, but I know it was the financial security in all of that that had the biggest impact on me - and worry that I might be forced to sell the house.

    I know that going part-time probably isn't going to ease the financial pressures more than a bit and they are likely to still be there but it is worth looking at what appropriate adjustments your employers could make in response to DDA mentioned by Themyscira. Really hope that you are a member of a union and that they can help and support you though sometimes they aren't as supportive as they should be either.

  • No teaching union is willing to get involved as its an independant school. I went back part time last year, on a phased return after spending four months in hospital (thats the long term bit), but they said I made the students suffer, as I could only teach some of them, the rest were left with no staff, so a phased return didnt work. So now they said the only option is to terminate my contract, or I agree to leave with two months pay. Im not worried about the financial side, it was more the career which I loved, being taken away from me. I had found it such a rewarding job, over the years, and had made so many positive changes to help the school. But when my boyfriend died I developed post traumatic stress, and complicated grief with the depression, although managed a whole year of work since, just on drugs, then ended up in hospital after attempting suicide so many times last year. Now my job is being taken away. Theres nothing left for me. The one thing I thought I might have left to live for, and Neil would want me to go back to what I loved doing, and I have let them down because I have now (although not all in one go) been off for 14 months, over the last 4 years. And its a disciplinary matter. I feel awful for making them suffer so much

  • Sorry to hear about this - glad that the financial side isn't a problem and understand that it is really difficult when you have invested so much of your life into something. Have you taken any legal advice. It does sound a bit discriminatory to not allow part time working as that still gives them the option of employing another part-timer. However, the way you are being treated does probably mean that it isn't the right place for you any more.

    If it hadn't been mental health issues but if something had happened that had made you uncomfortable at the school would you have considered looking for another job? May be you might find something part-time though it might mean a move. If the reason is that you can't do the hours rather than the quality of your teaching then I don't think you should regard that as saying that your career is over. I dropped my hours after my near brush with competency and have never gone back to full time - work 4 days a week. In the last year I've had some health issues not related to depression and so I'm currently thinking about going down to 3 days a week, albeit with a change of venue because change in Executive Director at the place I work means that we've gone from open communications to what feels like secrecy and I'm don't want to stay around any more.

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