Teachers, educators, and school support staff have long been unsung heroes in the lives of children. They have spent their own money on classroom supplies and expended hours upon hours of unpaid time grading, creating, and planning for the betterment of their students. They often put their students’ emotional needs before their own without thinking twice. And the current COVID-19 pandemic has required these sacrifices of our beloved school workers tenfold.  Let’s look at school mental health.

Acclimate quickly

While schools reopen through various modalities, educators have been tasked with more responsibilities than ever before and little time to comfortably acclimate to these changes. As various new educational platforms begin, teachers are inundated not only with their own stress and frustration, but also that of their students. The innate empathy many teachers have for their students under usual, non-pandemic circumstances can already be tough to comprehend. And yet, as the educational and social expectations of our students are increasing, educators’ feelings of compassion and empathy are likely at an all-time high. Left unaddressed, this can be very detrimental to one’s wellbeing. There is no better time than now for teachers, educators, and school support staff to prioritize their mental health. Cases of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing around the globe, and school workers are certainly not immune to this. They are the current front-line troops for our youth, so it’s important to many that they are supported and taking care of themselves.

Tend to your basic physical needs

A great start is to first ensure you are tending to your basic physical needs: eating nutritious foods, regularly elevating your heart rate, and getting adequate sleep each night. You also probably have a few self-care routines that you like to indulge in throughout the week, such as taking hot baths with candles or journaling your thoughts. These are definitely important! But under such extreme circumstances, it’s important to take your self-care even further and tend to your own mental and emotional health more intentionally and more frequently.

What does putting mental health first look like? Consider, for example, the structure of your classes. Have you built-in breaks for your students? Time for stretching, exercising, and socializing? Special videos that entice brain breaks and mindfulness? You more than likely already prioritize the emotional wellbeing of your students throughout each day.

It’s vital to acknowledge your own mental health as a priority too. Where can you fit in your own brain breaks and mindfulness checks? Have you considered reaching out to a mental health professional that can help guide and support your healing after the bell rings? Taking the time to process how you’re feeling and identifying effective coping skills will be a game-changer this year.

Continuously giving

Teachers, educators, and school support staff are in a profession that requires them to continuously give. And one who dedicates their life to strengthening future generations most certainly deserves that same kind of support in return. As Mister Rogers, the original remote-learning teacher of our time, once said,

“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors– in our own way, each one of us is a giver and receiver.”

Allow yourself to receive the gift of what you need right now!

Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland and Fenton, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Additionally, we offer psychiatric care in the form of evaluations and medication management. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.