The Scottish Government must ease the pressure on teachers that is costing Tayside and Fife schools thousands of missed work days, warns an MSP.
Mental health illness led to 21,983 days of staff absence in Courier Country schools in 2017-18, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Lib Dem Tavish Scott said the demands of SNP education policy is a factor in increasing sickness rates related to conditions such as depression and stress.
Across Scotland, 395,330 teacher and support staff days have been lost for mental health reasons since 2015/16.
Mr Scott said the absences have risen year-on-year, adding: “The pressure on classroom teachers is obvious.
“Teaching unions are worried by falling teacher morale, the top-down approach to education by central government and the impact of testing regimes on classrooms.
“This pressure has to be a factor in the growing number of absences caused by mental ill health.”
The Shetland MSP added: “In 2019, the Scottish Government must turn over a new leaf and work to reduce the pressure on Scotland’s overworked school staff.”
In Fife, there were 12,127 sick days taken by teachers and support staff in 2017-18, compared with 6,307 in Dundee and 3,549 in Perth & Kinross. Angus did not provide the information.
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants education, and in particular closing the attainment gap, to be the defining mission of her premiership.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is important that all public sector workers providing frontline services are in the strongest position to deliver those services.
“Although it is for local authorities to ensure all of their staff, including teachers, have access to the necessary mental health and wellbeing support our 10 year Mental Health Strategy outlines a range of actions aimed at ensuring everyone in Scotland can get the right support when they need it most.
“We have also taken decisive action to reduce teacher workload and recruit additional teachers to avoid any additional burden on existing staff.”