New APAF podcasts address stress on school staff and its impact on student learning

By Christopher D. Chun-Seeley

When we reflect on our relationship with school, some of us may recall feeling excited, nervous, curious, or frustrated. But one of the emotions I’m sure all of us can remember feeling is stress. We tend to think about stress as it relates to the students, but the stressors on the school community are also felt by the staff. Evidence of this is seen in a 2017 American Federation of Teachers survey that found that educators and school staff reported their work as “always” or “often” stressful 61% of the time. It’s safe to assume that these numbers have increased due to the pandemic. In fact, a 2021 State of the Teacher Survey conducted by the RAND Corporation showed that we’re at risk of losing a lot of amazing teachers to the Great Resignation, as nearly one in four teachers said they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

These are only a couple of the statistics that highlight how crucial it is for schools to remember that when they’re thinking about how they can positively impact the well-being of their students, now more than ever, they must also consider the mental health of the staff supporting those students.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of helpful information for administration, support services, and paraprofessionals on how to better advocate for their well-being and recognize when their colleagues might need support. A member of our team, Darcy Gruttadaro, shared some of those tips in a recent podcast. She joined the APA Foundation in 2017 as the director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health and has expertise in effective approaches to expanding evidence-based practices, improving early intervention, securing insurance coverage for mental health services and building a broader array of effective services and supports that promote resiliency and recovery.

To listen to the podcast or for more information on the APAF’s Mentally Healthy Nation podcasts, go to:

Christopher D. Chun-Seeley, M.S.W., is Program Director, School and Justice Initiatives at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF).

Views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or its Board of Directors.