Stressed-out staff in Renfrewshire’s schools and council-run nurseries have taken tens of thousands of days off for mental health reasons in recent years, The Gazette can reveal.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that, between 2018/19 and 2022/23, a total of 30,605 working days were lost, with the number rising every year during this period.

In 2018/19, there were 3,594 days lost, while in 2019/20 and 2020/21, which covers the period of school closures prompted by the Covid pandemic, 5,751 and 6,279 were lost respectively.

The figure for 2021/22 was 7,195 and, in 2022/23, this increased to 7,786.

A spokesperson for the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, said a rise in mental health-related illness amongst teachers is “not a surprise” but is “extremely troubling.”

“Cuts to school budgets have led to fewer staff in schools, dealing with large class sizes, increasing pupil aggression and violence and a massive rise in the number of young people with additional support needs,” added the spokesperson.

“Staff in schools need more support and this can only come through increased investment in the education system by government and the provision of additional qualified staff working in the classroom.”

The figures, obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, also show that staff in schools and council-run nurseries across Scotland have taken more than one million days off for mental health reasons in the last five years.

A total of 27 out of 32 councils provided figures, which cover teachers, support staff and nursery workers.

Willie Rennie, the Lib Dems’ education spokesman, said: “These alarming figures expose the devastating toll of mental health absences across our schools and nurseries.

“From early years to exam years, the SNP have persisted in mismanaging Scotland’s education system.

“By offering next to no support for staff, they have caused learning environments to turn into pressure-cookers, all while the attainment gap remains as wide as ever.

“It’s time to stop asking our education staff to perform miracles and finally give them the support and resources they need to deliver the very best for children.”

The Scottish Government said that, sit is vital that staff at schools and nurseries “are able to access the right support they need when carrying out their important duties.”

A spokesperson added: “Since October 2020, it the Scottish Government has allocated more than £2million to specifically support the wellbeing of the education workforce.

“An additional £200,000 this year is also supporting wellbeing coaching for staff working in schools and early learning and childcare,” a spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for Renfrewshire Council said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is our highest priority.

“We work hard to provide a healthy working environment and offer a wide range of support to assist employees and support their attendance, including counselling, mindfulness and physiotherapy courses for all employees to ensure they are physically and mentally able to attend work.

“We are committed to continually improving workplace health and wellbeing and regularly review our support to ensure we are meeting the needs of our workforce.”