Wellness and Self-Care
Secondary traumatic stress, burnout, and vicarious trauma are real and serious concerns for educators. Examples of stressors for educators can include the number of students in one class, increasingly challenging behaviors of students, a shortage of student support service providers, scarcity of up to date textbooks, lack of quality teaching materials, ongoing policy changes and poor implementation of new practices, lack of support from administrators, little involvement of student families, and high demands for the achievement of academic benchmarks – among many others. As educator stress levels rise, it is increasingly important that self-care and wellness be priorities on both individual and organizational levels in schools. The stress of working in schools can have serious outcomes on staff. Nearly half of teachers self-report having high levels of daily stress, which has impacts on their health, sleep, and overall quality of life. This stress impacts not only the teaching performance of the educators but the academic performance of their students.[i] For school staff to best serve children with behavioral health needs as part of school responder model implementation, it is essential that they also create the space to care for themselves.
To mitigate these concerns, wellness and self-care practices on both individual and organization levels can provide the stress reduction school staff need to most effectively do their work and feel good. Wellness is "a conscious, deliberate process that requires a person to become aware of and make choices that help promote a more satisfying lifestyle.”[ii] “Self-care is the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” [iii]
[i] Mark T. Greenberg, Joshua L. Brown, and Rachel M. Abenavoli. Teacher Stress and Health (The Pennsylvania State University: 2016). Retrieved from https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2016/07/teacher-stress-and-health.html
[ii] Margaret Swarbrick. "A wellness model for clients," Mental Health Special Interest Section Quarterly 20, no. 1-4 (1997)
[iii] "What do we mean by self-care? World Health Organization, (n.d) , Retrieved from https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/self-care-interventions/definitions/en/