Free Resources Available to Support Teachers’ Well-Being During Pandemic  

by Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Teacher standing in front of class wearing a mask
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were experiencing high levels of stress related to their work. One study found 93% of elementary school teachers experience high stress on the job, while a survey of 5,000 teachers showed almost two-thirds of educators “usually feel stressed out,” a rate double that of other professions. Due to COVID-19, teachers face an entirely new set of responsibilities and stressors. They’ve had to adapt to teaching online, juggling in-person students with virtual learners and increased sanitation and social distancing enforcement to keep themselves and students safe. It’s no surprise that teachers are feeling stretched thin and administrators are worried about potential burnout.  As a society, we celebrate stories of teachers who go to great lengths for their students. However, the tendency that many teachers have to go above and beyond in the classroom leaves out an important consideration: their own mental health and well-being. With this in mind, it’s important to know that Michigan schools have access to a free resource to help teachers and support staff refocus some of their energy back on themselves. The Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness program is multi-faceted and customizable, allowing schools to pick the resources that are most helpful related to healthy eating, physical activity, mental health and well-being. The Staff Well-Being resource provides educators and staff with $1,500 to address well-being needs determined by the school and access to webinars powered by the Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being team, led by Cindy Bjorkquist, director of Well-Being at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “My dad was a teacher for 30 years, so I have a special place in my heart for those people who pick a profession that literally can change a kid’s life as they go through their school years,” Bjorkquist said. “All the webinars we offer educating people on how to improve their overall well-being can be used by teachers not only to help them, but to help their students on their life journey.” Webinars cover topics such as finding purpose, developing resilience and self-care. Every week, a new 30-minute webinar is released live but can also be accessed on-demand. Meditations and cooking demonstrations are also available through the program. Bjorkquist said to be effective in the classroom, teachers need resources to help them focus on their own well-being. “If they don’t take care of themselves, they cannot be their best for the kids in the classroom and risk burnout,” she said. Deb Grischke is the program coordinator for Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness. She said teachers and staff engaged with the well-being resources are better able to show up for their students, while still caring for their own needs. “School staff are provided with the opportunity to practice self-care and put themselves in the best position possible to help students navigate their own social and emotional well-being and, ultimately, have a positive impact on educational outcomes,” she said. Interested in well-being resources to help teachers and staff in your school district? Applications for the Step Up for School Wellness program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 30. Find more information and apply here. Related:
Photo credit: izusek

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