The past couple years have led to an increase in crisis for educators as they learn to navigate these turbulent times. Crisis comes into our lives, no matter how we might try to avoid it, leaving us feeling a sense of loss and uncertainty. This stress can seem overwhelming and lead to an increase in mental health and emotional issues impacting how we view and interact in the classroom.
“While stress is to be expected with any job, elevated amounts of stress that go unresolved for long periods of time will have negative effects,” explains Jon Ebert, Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Program Manager for E-Therapy.
According to an EdWeek Research Center report, ninety-one percent of teachers say they experience job-related stress sometimes, frequently, or always. In 2021, teachers are sharing that they’ve had more stress than ever before. Particularly as students are only just beginning to show their trauma from the pandemic by acting out in a variety of ways. Students whose trauma includes isolation, anxiety, depression, and exhaustion display behaviors including; procrastinating or not completing work, tardiness or skipping, refusal to participate or are distracted and acting out in class.
Teachers are not only having to adjust their teaching style and methodology on the fly, but they also have less control, or more specifically less influence, over student engagement, especially during periods where learning has been virtual. “It’s as if they are in uncharted territory rowing as hard as they can but in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight,” writes Ebert. The impacts of trauma, isolation, anxiety, depression and exhaustion that are driving student behaviors are conditions that teachers are experiencing themselves. Teachers are seeking real, actionable solutions to help with their mental health needs rather than just talking about the problem.
Cultivating Self-Awareness and Connection In and Out of the Classroom
Difficult times often force us to come face-to-face with our own vulnerabilities, limitations, beliefs and self care roadblocks. This can be very powerful. Cultivating that self-awareness—and paying attention to the inner dialogues—helps to highlight what benefits can be drawn from a challenge.
E-Therapy understands the importance of healthy communication and interactions. Building a rapport and connection between students and staff are at the heart of learning in the classroom. In an effort to help educators and the whole school community meet the growing challenges we are facing today, E-Therapy developed its new eQUIP platform. Our new comprehensive wellness platform provides mental health solutions for the whole school community. We support students, staff, teachers, and administrators in developing resources that foster a deeper sense of well being. The eQUIP program addresses the stigma that surrounds mental health, breaking down barriers and providing solutions educators can begin using immediately.
The easy to follow framework was aptly named to focus on; Engaging Environments, Quality Connections, Understanding, Interpersonal Interactions, and Personal Care. The platform is packed-full of 6-10 minute modules you can begin using immediately that address the dynamic issues impacting our school classrooms. Some examples of current topics included in our eQUIP platform are: Mindfulness, Bullying, De-escalation in the Classroom, and Understanding and Responding to Trauma. Included in this comprehensive platform are interactive tools, downloadable resources, and engaging online content, all designed to provide educators with the tools and resources needed to build healthy schools, healthy staff, and healthy students.
We also provide Solution-Focused Brief therapy which is future-focused, goal-directed, and focuses on solutions rather than problems. Educators will benefit by learning how to handle mental health issues with the students they teach, as well as wellness strategies for their own work and life balance. We want to empower our educational partners to add eQUIP to their arsenal of valued tools to empower them to tackle even the toughest challenges in the classroom.
Change and growth rarely happen while we are in a state of comfort. Ebert explains “that being pushed out of our comfort zone is essential to finding opportunities in crisis.” With dedication, intention and the right tools, transformational growth in your personal and professional life, is more apt to happen.