More than half a million school staff days have been lost in Scotland since April 2017 due to mental health absences, according to findings by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart MSP has warned of the “tremendous toll” of these absences.
Over 548,000 teacher and support staff days have been lost for mental health reasons since 2017-18.
In Shetland, 2,676 days were lost in 2019-20 because of mental health absences.
That figure has dropped to 663 for this year, albeit in a school year which has been severely stunted by Covid closures and home learning.
Ms Wishart said that 550,000 lost staff days equated to “1,503 years worth” of lost learning.
“The pressures caused by the SNP’s top-down approach to education and the loss of valuable classroom support have been obvious for some time.
“It’s no surprise that both teacher morale and Scotland’s performance in international educational surveys are headed in the wrong direction. All of this was taking its toll long before the coronavirus pandemic came over the horizon.
“Since then, teachers have been thrust into the frontline, dealing with conditions that no other group has been asked to tolerate.
“It will be no surprise if absences this year are even higher.”
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Maree Todd said she was “immensely grateful” to teachers for the difference they made to children.
“Supporting the health and wellbeing of teachers and other staff is vital,” she said.
“This was true before Covid-19, but it is even more important as school staff support our children and young people to recover from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“In September, the Scottish Government announced a package of support for school staff, with Barnardo’s Scotland and mental health charity Place2Be offering new mental health support.
“This additional help complements the excellent practice which is already taking place to support the wellbeing of staff in schools across Scotland.”
Ms Wishart said the Liberal Democrats would continue to fight for a better pay deal for teachers instead, and an independent review of their conditions and the demands placed on them daily.