In diverse arenas there is much discussion about the dangerousness of contemporary lifestyles, including the stressful nature of work. These stresses associated with contemporary lifestyles and work are dangerous in so far as they are conceived as placing at risk the emotional, physical and psychic health and well-being of large populations. In this paper we engage with debates about the stressful nature of teachers' work, and the ways in which teacher health and well-being are constructed as being central to the task of delivering more effective schools. In this article we are not so much concerned with the nature of teacher stress as an indication of individual physical, emotional or psychic health and well-being, as with understanding how it is that at this particular historical juncture the self can be so widely conceived in terms of stress. Moreover, what processes make it possible at this moment to link the success or otherwise of a massive institutional process of state-regulated schooling to the health and well-being of teachers and the management of this health and well-being by school managers? We argue that in a policy context that devolves various responsibilities to self-managing schools, the government of the stressed self emerges as an ethical concern for teachers and those who manage them (Foucault, The Use of Pleasure , New York, Pantheon, 1985). Our purpose is to problematise these processes so that responsibilities for delivering on the promise of effective schools might be differently framed and debated.