The Secondary Principals' Association is alarmed by survey results that indicate its members are more likely to suffer abuse and stress than other people.
The survey conducted for the association by Umbrella Wellbeing found 40 percent of the 164 respondents experienced unkind words and behaviour compared with less than 10 percent of respondents in other professions.
And 16 percent reported a high level of psychological distress associated with depression or anxiety, nearly double the 9 percent reported by other workers.
Most, 58 percent, were not happy with their work-life balance, a much higher figure than the 23 percent of other respondents.
However, 65 percent were satisfied with their role while 22 percent were dissatisfied.
Almost nine out of 10 said they had a good or very good relationship with their board of trustees.
"Having a good relationship with the board of trustees was associated with being more satisfied with their current role, but having poor relationships with the board of trustees was associated with greater psychological distress," the report said.
The respondents said they worked on average 61 hours a week and the report said one principal advised that a better measure would be how many hours per week principals were not working.
"By this, I mean that many of the principals find it difficult to switch off. We face dramas and dilemmas which cannot be easily solved or actioned at work and so we either consciously or unconsciously seek solutions, explore possibilities, or worse, angst over decisions and what-ifs while away from our desks. I believe it is this element of our work which drains our buckets as we are seldom 'not working'," the principal said.
Most principals, 75 percent, said their organisation provided a lot of support for wellbeing compared with 53 percent of respondents in other professions.
"Work team relationships are good, and better than we usually find in other organisations," the report said.
"People are reporting generally good levels of resilience, although at present they are doing relatively poorly with the use of healthy habits and recovery when busy."
"A higher-than-expected proportion are reporting 'high' and 'medium' levels of psychological distress," it said.
"Some aspects of wellbeing are lower than we normally find in other organisations. Workload and lack of manager support are significantly more likely to be cited as issues by SPANZ principals compared to others we have surveyed. Almost all reported working hours in excess of the 'standard' work week."
The Secondary Principals' Association president Vaughan Couillault was alarmed by the high percentage of respondents reporting high levels of psychological distress.
"That's people actively in a little bit of trouble with their mental wellbeing," he said.
Couillault said the unkind behaviour principals experienced could include death threats and abuse from members of the community.
"Colleagues of mine who have worked in other schools and been in complicated situations that have ended up in the media or in social media certainly have had all sorts of vitriol pointed in their direction and where in some cases they've gone to the police where threats of violence have been made."
Couillault said the association would provide more advice and guidance for principals but their employers, school boards of trustees, needed more official help and guidance to ensure they were protecting principals' wellbeing.
He said more than half of the association's members responded to the survey.
Couillault said principalship was becoming less attractive for many teachers because of the high level of responsibility and the relative lack of reward in terms of increased pay.
"We're starting to see more and more challenges in terms of recruiting principals to positions, particularly in the secondary space," he said.