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June Update

“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.“ – Mary Pickford

I am feeling very encouraged right now.

Work related stress is on the increase in the UK and for so long there has been a stigma about talking openly about it. This has left many people feeling isolated – with a sense that somehow we are the only one battling with the issue. Isolation is the biggest threat to resilience. It can deny us perspective and cut us off from the very people in the best position to support us.

The BBC Political Editor, Nick Robinson has just released his Election Diary which sums up the twist ant turns of the recent UK election campaign. At the same, time it charts his own battle through throat cancer, his operation and the very real possibility that he might lose his voice permanently.

On the radio yesterday he revealed that he had nearly subtitled his diary, ‘Whatever Happened to the Stiff Upper- Lip’ as he has revealed the raw emotions and the times that he cried, in a way that his father, with the sensibilities of another generation, might not have approved.

Nick wrote his book, partly as therapy for himself but mainly to help others realise that they are not alone in what they are going through.

In some small way, I hope that by sharing some of my battles with stress and the strategies I have learned in my recovery, I too, will help others.

I was thrilled and encouraged, when the NAHT provided me with the platform to deliver the opening keynote to 500 delegates at their three day Annual Conference recently. The response has been incredible. So many people have contacted me to say that they were inspired by my story and recognised many aspects within themselves. Conference bookings are now coming in into 2016 as a result.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to give a live interview on BBC Midlands Today. They were running with a lead story on the cost of work-related stress in Walsall. When I was briefed in the studio, they warned me that the video would be placed afterwards on their Facebook and I should prepare myself for some negative feedback about teachers being stressed and the traditional misconceptions about the length of their working day and the length of the school holidays. I braced myself for what might be posted in response to my comments. The video had nearly five thousand visits in the week after the programme. Negative comments? Two.

So why am I feeling encouraged? Because a wider recognition of the importance of the issue has started to emerge There is a growing awareness of the impact of work-related stress in the UK and the fact that organisations like the NAHT and the media are prepared to give it prominent coverage can only serve to help open up the debate.

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