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August 2, 2022 Haeli Harris

7 Steps to Teaching Teachers About Mental Health

Here are some practical steps for school administrators to start a mental health training program for teachers at the beginning of the new school year.

As the beginning of the school year approaches, it’s time for school administrators and school boards to think about teaching teachers about mental health.

Mental health training is a somewhat unseen need of teachers that administrators should tackle early in the year. Training teachers about their mental health can help them prepare for the best school year possible.

Many states require mental health training for students, but there is no training required for teacher mental wellbeing. Many teachers stress over giving mental health training to students when they themselves have not received their own mental health education.

Teaching teachers about mental health can help them care for the mental wellbeing of themselves and their students while in the classroom. It is crucial that teachers receive their own mental health training to help combat teacher burnout. More than half (52%) of teachers have reported feeling burnout. 

School administrators play the main role of educating teachers about mental health and acting as mentors and leaders in the school environment. To retain teachers and build a supportive school community, administrators hold the responsibility to account for the mental wellbeing of teachers. One way that administrators can attain these goals is to create teacher mental health training programs or workshops.

Here are some practical steps for school administrators to create a teacher mental health training program or workshop at the beginning of the school year:

  1. Brainstorm Meeting Notes Around the Needs of Teachers
  2. Collect and Provide Teaching Mental Health Resources 
  3. Break the Ice
  4. Be Vulnerable
  5. Teach Coping Skills
  6. Show Teachers Where They Can Get Support
  7. Move Forward

These seven steps can help streamline the planning process for you. Read on to see how to implement these steps into your workshop (with examples!). 

1. Brainstorm Meeting Notes Around the Needs of Teachers

As you begin brainstorming for mental health training, think about the needs of teachers as they return to the classroom after the summer break. 

What are the aspects of teaching that may cause them stress or anxiety? What can your school do to address these concerns or make things easier for teachers?

Concerns teachers are having include large class sizes, fearing a lack of safety, experiencing student misbehavior, feeling overworked, and feeling a lack of support from the school community.

Once you have thought about the specific stressors, you can tailor your workshop to meet the specific needs of your educators. Or, even better, survey your teachers to see which topics they’d like to receive training on or support with.

2. Collect and Provide Mental Health Resources that are Relevant to Teachers

When you conduct your workshop, you will want to provide teaching mental health resources to train your teachers with. Pick resources that meet the specific needs of your teachers. 

You may want to tailor your workshop to be on coping strategies to use while at work. Another idea is how to manage stress in the classroom and beyond. Your mental health program can help you with this.

Check out Nivati’s downloadable resources for PDFs to share with teachers at your workshop or training session.

3. Break the Ice7 Steps to Teaching Teachers About Mental Health - two women sitting in library having a conversation at laptop

At the beginning of the school year, many new faces are on campus. It can be hard to connect with coworkers that you barely know. 

Provide a fun ice breaker game for teachers to relieve stress while at the same time. This can be helpful in easing any potential nerves or tension in the meeting. 

A great icebreaker goes beyond saying a name and one interesting thing about yourself. Playing “Two Truths and a Lie” or pairing a new teacher with a veteran teacher for a scavenger hunt could be a great way to establish rapport and belonging at the beginning of the school year. 

4. Be Vulnerable

When teaching teachers about mental health skills, it is important to be personal with your employees. 

You can begin your presentation by sharing personal teaching struggles and addressing your educators’ mental health concerns. Address the importance of the school’s wellbeing to the teachers in a sincere, candid way. 

If your school has gone through any struggles, address them carefully and give weight to the circumstances. Encourage educators that they can rely on you and other faces on campus.

5. Teach Coping Skills

It would be difficult to tackle every aspect of mental health in your first meeting, so a great place to begin would be to train teachers about coping skills they can use and teach their students.

Showcase several coping skills in an engaging presentation over the course of twenty minutes to one hour, depending on your needs for the meeting. 

Some coping skills to include would be:

  • Meditation and mindfulness in the classroom
  • Asking for help or task delegation
  • How to maintain emotional connections and composure in the classroom

For this part of the teacher mental health training program, we’d highly recommend bringing in a licensed therapist to speak with your team. Your mental health program would likely be able to help you make this a reality.

You can read more about coping skills in 9 Problem-Based Coping Techniques to Help Your Mental Health and Coping Strategies For Anxiety at Work.

6. Show Teachers Where They Can Get Support

After giving your presentation on coping strategies, this would be an appropriate time to hand out those teacher mental health resources you have collected to your educators. You can hand out a physical copy or send an email to teachers with a list of important mental health resources. 

If you have staff on hand that teachers can use as a mental health resource, this would be an excellent time to promote them to your teachers. If you feel comfortable, you may allow teachers to voice their stressors in an anonymous survey so that you can best help them at this time.

The Employee Mental Health Kit is a great resource to share with teachers. It includes some simple ways to boost mental wellbeing.

7. Move Forward

At the end of the meeting, address that mental health training for teachers is important to you as a school to build a healthy school community. 

Consider having multiple mental health training programs throughout the school year regularly and, additionally, during stressful times of the school year. 

To help teachers all year round, consider getting a mental health program for your team.

For more information on how to best support teachers, read Reducing Teacher Stress in the Classroom. and 10 Unique Ways to Support Teacher Mental Health.

You can find more ideas for health and wellness workshops and lunch and learns in this article.

 

Learn About the Power of Self-Care

Download the Mental Health Tool Kit to learn about mental health in the workplace – what it is, why it matters, and how you can start supporting employee mental health!

 

Disclaimer

By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take the place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Haeli Harris

Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Lead Counselor at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, UT & HI
Registered Yoga Teacher 200
Trauma Conscious Yoga (2021)
Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Education
Bachelor's of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Utah
Master's of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Northcentral University

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE