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Helping Teachers Cope, New Resources Aim To Reduce Stress

Posted at 8:33 AM, Dec 16, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — It’s been a rough year for parents and kids as they try to navigate through the changes brought on by COVID-19. But it’s been especially hard on another group that both rely on – teachers. As Maya Rodriguez tells us – a new program aims to help teachers deal with their mental health and stress – in some unique ways.

It’s been a long, empty year at many schools across the country and for those who work there. Karin Tulchinsky Cohen, Assistant Principal shared that “It has been one of the most watershed year in my 30 some years of education that I've ever seen.

Karin Tulchinsky Cohen is an Assistant Principal at Beall elementary school in Montgomery County, Maryland – home of the largest school district in the state. The more than 11,000 teachers here, like many all over the world face tough challenges brought on by virtual learning.

Karin Tulchinsky Cohen, assistant principal: “their stress levels have been very, very high. ”Recognizing that the school district partnered with Kaiser Permenente for “rise” – which stands for “resilience in school environments” – part of their thriving schools program.

The idea is to help teachers improve their own mental health and coping abilities. Erin Vanluven, licensed clinical social worker: “the effort of just having to overdo it on the screen so that your students can stay engaged, one and continue to learn - I mean, they've just had to grow their repertoire so much.”

Erin Vanluven is a licensed clinical social worker who leads some of the programs. Some of what they do involves yoga and virtual dance parties. Erin Vanluven, licensed clinical social worker: “people that can regulate their own emotions when crisis comes into their life, you know they are much more able to be effective and efficient and they're much more likely to bounce back.”

Among her three main suggestions which can work for anyone, make sure to give yourself a “bio-break” – like deep breathing or even stretching for a few minutes try to eat two healthy meals a day – with fruits and vegetables – because that impacts your overall health – including mental health and finally – take up a hobby you enjoy… and do it.

Erin Vanluven, licensed clinical social worker: “everybody should be taking care of their emotional wellness and it doesn't really take much more than 10 to 30 minutes a day.”

For educators, the advice and camaraderie with fellow teachers has helped and now Kaiser Permanente plans to expand the program to other school districts.

Karin Tulchinsky Cohen, Assistant Principal explained “I am so proud of the teachers in my school and all teachers. they have adapted so beautifully.” Adapting to a new way of doing things – for now.

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