Victimised staff dial schools' helpline

June 2, 2006

A growing number of academics are turning to a 24-hour helpline for schoolteachers as they fall victim to a rising tide of workplace bullying and stress, writes Phil Baty.

University and college lecturers are calling the Teacher Support Network charity's helpline for counselling.

Demand from lecturers has been so great that TSN trustees are expected to approve a dedicated service, the College and University Support Network, at their meeting on June 16.

The charity's managers found that some 3 per cent of the thousands of calls and e-mails to the service last year were from lecturers seeking help with matters such as bully managers and heavy workloads.

TSN said that its new charity, to be launched in October, would include a confidential counselling helpline, a secure e-mail coaching service, money advice and needs-based financial assistance, as well as access to factsheets via a dedicated website.

The news came as it emerged that academics were setting up informal support networks to counter bullying. One, who has taken the pseudonym of French economist and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, this month created a weblog ( www.bulliedacademics.blogspot.com ) to discuss his experiences of being bullied.

He says: "There are some good reasons for this blog. Firstly, I hope for a therapeutic effect. Secondly, colleagues that are going through similar situations may find useful information. Lastly, the bullying of academics is a hidden problem.

"Despite the anti-bullying policies, very few academic managers seem to be aware of what bullying really is and how to deal with it."

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