Free, Optional Resources Support Educator Mental Health in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
Nashville, TN— Today, the Tennessee Department of Education released the Educator Emotional Support Video Series to provide free, optional resources to support the mental health of Tennessee educators, created in partnership with statewide partners.
In support of Teacher Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the video series provides guidance, resources, and interactive activities by two licensed clinical social workers focusing on the mental health of Tennessee educators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, this video series builds off the Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress, launched in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and other statewide organizations, to provide free and confidential mental health support to all Tennesseans working in education, healthcare workers, and first responders.
“Educators have faced significant challenges and hurdles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including shifting from virtual to in-person instruction while ensuring our students continue to learn.” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “As a parent, I appreciate their dedication and ongoing support and I am grateful we can provide these essential resources to help our educators manage their stress and continue the critical work of educating our children.”
- Introduction to Stress Response: This video session introduces the series, recognizing educators experience significant pressure from many directions during a normal school year and this year has only added pressure.
- Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness: This video session focuses on mindfulness, state of awareness, and how to shift attention to focus on support.
- Grief and Loss: This video session begins with practicing a mindfulness skill from the previous video. Additionally, this video session shares the stages of grief and associated feelings.
- Maintaining and Managing Healthy Connections: This video session focuses on the importance of connection and relationships, including a grounding and connectedness exercise.
- Self-Care: This videos session highlights self-care as a lifestyle and how to create and implement a self-care plan.
In partnership with external partners and private mental health practitioners, these videos and associated materials were designed to help educators practice strategies to manage stresses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last 18 months have been complex, and educators have faced significant challenges and obstacles while simultaneously working to keep their students engaged,” said Beth Goodner, Chief Executive Officer, TrustPoint Hospital. “In memory of Dr. Linda Gilbert, and in honor of May being Teacher Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, I am grateful to and appreciative of the Tennessee Department of Education, as well as Mai Ferrell and Robin Morgan Bayne, for bringing this emotional support video series to fruition. I want our educators to be armed with the knowledge of various coping skills that will better equip them to engage fully in their personal and professional lives. Tennessee educators do much more than teach. They impact students for a lifetime.”
“Tennessee educators have well earned a moment to reflect on the lessons we have learned and regroup after giving so much to our communities and classrooms this past school year,” said Kami Lunsford, 2021 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and Music Teacher, Karns Middle School. “By including balance and mindfulness as we move forward to take care of ourselves, we can positively impact our families, classrooms, and communities. This video series is a valuable resource for our personal and professional lives.”
“Educators and school health professionals have exceptionally challenging jobs, with front row seats to the impacts of poor health, hunger, and child trauma,” said Jacy Warrell, Executive Director, Rural Health Association of Tennessee. “These videos are a much-needed prescription to support the physical and mental health of our educators.”
“The Jason Foundation recognizes and champions mental health supports,” said Clark Flatt, President, The Jason Foundation. “Through my son Jason’s story, we know how critical it is for educators, who are often the first to notice when our children are struggling, to have access to mental health resources to continue supporting our children. We’re proud of the life-changing impact of educators and want to be a part of ensuring they, too, have the support they need.”
“The pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on all of us in some way,” said Angela Webster, Executive Director, Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee. “Ensuring we do our part to focus on the professionals who guide our children from birth to high school and empower them with resources, particularly those emphasizing self-care and relational health, is central to the work we do. We are pleased to support the Tennessee Department of Education on this critical work to support Tennessee’s educators.”
For more information on Teacher Appreciation Month, check out the social media hashtag, #TNSupportsTeachers, and the department’s Twitter page.
For more information on the Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress, which is available via call or text at 888-642-7886 from 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. CT / 7 a.m.- 11 p.m. ET daily, click here.
For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.