Mental health resources support school staff
Manitoba teachers, bus drivers and all their colleagues in the K-12 school system can now visit a virtual one-stop-shop for mental health resources.
Due to concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the well-being of educators and other school employees, the Canadian Mental Health Association recently launched the Care for All in Education initiative.
The website (careforallineducation.com) has been tailor-made for Manitoba school staff, with the ability for users to contact local wellness support specialists directly through the site to help them navigate education services. support available.
School staff can scroll through educational materials on topics such as anxiety, grief, and substance use, click on links to access community resources, and read about mental health strategies on the website. .
“We are trying to protect the mental health of our education staff… (so that staff can) continue to be able to function in their role, to feel good and resilient in these difficult times, and ultimately not to have the feel that his health and well-being is compromised by their work,” said Marion Cooper, Executive Director of CMHA Manitoba Chapter.
Researchers from the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University have documented the impact of COVID-19 on teachers – ranging from reports of increased student withdrawal to considerations about leaving the profession – since March 2020.
Freedom of Information requests obtained by the Free Press also show there was an increase in furloughs, quits and retirements of educators in Winnipeg in 2020-21 compared to 2018-2019.
The teachers’ union has an employee assistance program, but not all K-12 staff have access to counseling through work, Cooper said.
People often think there are waiting lists for everything, so they don’t bother looking for resources – and she noted that there are, indeed, not enough health services. mental health services to meet community demand — but Cooper said Wellness Facilitators can help users with immediate strategies and determine possible next steps.
The province has allocated $500,000 to the CMHA project. The resource is only available in English, but the developers plan to launch it in French before spring.
“I absolutely hope this service will be there to support people in education for a long time to come,” said Fiona England, a social worker who oversees the Winnipeg School Division’s Healthy Minds initiative, a program that promotes literacy in Mental Health.
“We don’t even know exactly what we will need (after the pandemic). COVID itself has caused trauma, so there will be a traumatic response from it. »
England said people working in the school system face personal challenges at the same time as they are concerned about the mental health of their pupils, as well as their pupils’ families.
Not only has the pandemic exacerbated anxiety, depression, stress, grief and loneliness at alarming rates, but she said educators are worried about everything from attendance issues to suicidal ideation among students. .
Meanwhile, the head custodian of a Winnipeg school said the main stressors for custodial staff continued to be the continued focus on ramping up sanitation and staff shortages in due to COVID-19.
“We see every day how stressed out students, teachers and other staff are as well. It’s like a swirling storm of anxiety that sometimes kicks in as you walk through the hallways,” said Junel Malapad.
While England acknowledged things felt overwhelming at the moment, they said acknowledging everyone’s resilience was key. In addition to the support services available, the WSD social worker said what gives her hope is the fact that there continues to be a major shift in the way students and staff talk about the Mental Health.
“When we reduce stigma, we increase help-seeking behaviors,” she added.
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