mental health

Kaiser Permanente Teams With School District to Focus on Teachers' Mental Health

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A healthcare provider is teaming up with one of the D.C. region's largest school districts to focus on the mental health of educators.

Teachers made the sudden switch to virtual learning last spring and spent the summer learning new skills for remote or hybrid learning in the fall.

Karin Tulchinsky Cohen, assistant principal at Beall Elementary School in Rockville, Maryland, says educators need to focus on selfcare and it falls on administrators to make it a priority.

“Giving permission and telling them, please turn off the computer, take time for yourself. … You offer your heart to your children and that's what really counts,” Tulchinsky Cohen said. 

Therapists agree.

“Pressures to have lesson plans, pressures to be on all day and be present,” said Kristin Whiting-Davis, a mental health therapist at Kaiser Permanente.

“We’re not necessarily in the moment; we’re thinking of the next thing or thinking about what happened yesterday, and because of that, that can be really stressful, not only mentally but also physically,” Whiting Davis said.

Kaiser Permanente partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools to give teachers tools to cope with the challenges and prevent burnout.

“To help them gain skills and techniques, to help them destress and learn to, not just to react to things, but be able to pause and actually be mindful of where they’re at in their day,” Whiting-Davis said.

The program includes a mental health boot camp and virtual dance parties to shake away the stress and anxiety.

“This is one chapter, it feels like a very long chapter, a longer chapter than any of us thought was going to happen, but this is not our reality forever,” Tulchinsky Cohen said. “And we’re going to get through, and I think the goal is we're going to come out of it on the other side better people, better educators and more empathetic, more compassionate.”

Kaiser says the partnership with Montgomery County Pubic Schools has gone so well they're looking at expanding the program with other local school districts.

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