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Teachers and other school employees consistently report high levels of occupational stress. Though different for each individual employee, common sources of stress include high job demand and working with limited resources. School employees can also experience “vicarious trauma,” which refers to the emotional strain that results from working with students who have experienced stressful or traumatic events.

Schools are increasingly aware of the importance of social-emotional health and the impact of chronic adversity and chronic trauma. Schools and districts that support the social and emotional well-being and resilience of their employees are likely to have a workforce with lower levels of stress, improved school employee attendance, and an increased ability to model positive emotions for students. Furthermore, they see lower levels of teacher turnover related to burnout.

Supporting the social and emotional well-being and resilience of teachers and staff is critical for creating a positive school climate and retaining quality educators. Wellness programs in schools build a culture of health that can benefit everyone in the school community.

Benefits of
Social & Emotional
Well-Being

Wellness programs in schools deliver a wide range of benefits to employees, including the following.

  • A safer, more supportive work environment
  • Improved health, increased well-being, self-image, and self-esteem
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Ability to manage stress or other factors affecting health
  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Reduced out-of-pocket expenses for physician office visits, medications, procedures, or hospitalizations related to acute or chronic illness

Schools can support employees’ social and emotional well-being in a variety of ways. Some examples include promoting a support network between staff members, involving administrators and support staff to relieve tension when a disciplinary issue arises, and redesigning staff breakrooms. Schools can also train employees in trauma-informed practices, which improve employees’ ability to effectively support their students, resulting in a better overall school climate and improved academic outcomes.

Promote
Social & Emotional
Well-Being

Trauma-informed Practices and Policies

Review the guides offered by the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative that outline how to incorporate trauma-informed practices and policies into your school.

See TLPI’s Guide on trauma-informed schools

School Employee Wellness Guide

The Directors of Health Promotion and Education have developed School Employee Wellness: A Guide for Protecting the Assets of Our Nation’s Schools to provide information about school employee wellness programs and practical tools for implementing these programs.

See the DHPE guide to school employee wellness

Teacher Stress and Health

This issue brief, created by the Pennsylvania State University with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores the need for research, practice, and policy on social and emotional learning to support the health of teachers, students, and schools.

Read the Teacher Stress and Health brief

Mindful Schools

Learn about mindfulness and explore your personal practice with a variety of resources and opportunities for teachers

See Mindful Schools

Sleep Management Toolkit

Support school employees get healthier and sleep better with this six-week program developed by Kaiser Permanente.

See the Rest & Revive Sleep Management Toolkit

Stress Management Toolkit

Help school employees manage their stress with this no-cost, eight-week program developed by Kaiser Permanente.

See the Finding Balance Stress Management Toolkit

Staff Breakroom Makeover

Make good health a part of everyday life for faculty and staff by providing them with a well-equipped breakroom where they can relax.

Learn how to do a Breakroom Makeover >

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