Tired teachers get jolt of juice to brain
Stressed UK teachers are being offered electric shock therapy to combat anxiety and depression.
Already used by the British Army and US military to treat post-traumatic stress, the gadget works by stimulating the brain with a mild shock.
Now it is being used in primary and secondary schools to help teachers cope with what is recognised as a nationwide problem.
School bosses are offering the treatment at seven secondary schools, seven primary schools and a special educational needs school in Kent.
After running a pilot scheme, Leigh Academies Trust says the device has had a positive impact on levels of anxiety, depression and sleep disorder - all symptoms of stress among its staff.
"We are now rolling the scheme out so that it is available to all staff," Trust human resources director Richard Taylor said.
The Alpha-Stim device is the size of a phone and sends microcurrents of electricity to increase the brain's natural alpha waves, which are said to create a more relaxed state of mind.
The drug-free treatment, which takes around 20 minutes a day, involves two electrodes being clipped to the earlobes with wires running to the machine.
The hands-free device delivers an electrical current, measuring less than 1mA, to the brain. It is believed to have a therapeutic effect that can help insomniacs.
The trust's educational psychologist, Jo Buttle, added: "The trust's forward-thinking approach enabled us to adopt a creative strategy in helping reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties among staff.
"The results are excellent and suggest this is something schools should consider as part of their staff support strategy."
The National Union of Teachers has warned that 90% of staff consider quitting because of workload and stress with teaching among the top three most stressful occupations.
A recent study by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that maths, science and computing teachers are leaving the classroom in droves because of stress and poor pay.
The Leigh Academies Trust turned to the device after their trials involved using it to see if it reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties .
The pilot found that "participants had better post-treatment sleep quality" and the changes were so impressive, the trust has now invested in its own devices so staff can access them when needed.