As we gear up for RELIT 2022, our sixth annual conference for educators, I realize that now, more than ever, I am concerned about the mental health of staff (mostly) and students. More than just a day to connect, this year we are going to take on the big topics, including school shootings (and how to prepare and respond), the trauma of racism and marginalization, and the rampant rates of burnout in our staff and leadership teams.
84% of teachers surveyed by the EdWeek Research Center in March 2022 said that teaching is more stressful than it was before the pandemic. Our educators had intense jobs before the damn virus – and now they’re facing the aftermath of the pandemic, alongside a myriad of other issues. It feels like a flammable combination that could burn them out in a big way.
So how do we take better care of our sweet educators? Here are a few of my thoughts for schools these days:
Talk openly about mental health issues.
Making mental health visible is key, and we need people in leadership positions to talk about it, a lot. We have to name our emotions to tame them. Because emotions won’t kill you, but not talking about them might.
Treat your teachers
Show the teachers in your life that you care with a card, a coffee, or a meat tray. Charcuterie might not have the power to change the world all at once, but it’s sure to put a smile on some faces. And remember, if the big people don’t feel seen, then the little people don’t stand a chance.
Consider “Reconnect: Mental Health Training for K-12 School Practitioners”
Trauma-informed and relationship-focused, this eight-week virtual course for K-12 mental health professionals is something to help shift the culture and increase the mental health and wellness of your staff, students, their families, and our communities. For more information, click here.
Build a culture with some emotional language
Mental health issues have a way of hiding in plain sight. Mad is usually just sad’s bodyguard, remember? Studies show that employees are reluctant to share their struggles or ask for help. Teachers are always asking our kids how they feel, how they’re doing. But when’s the last time you saw a teacher and engaged in a genuine check-in?