How Can You Show Your Support for Your Mental Health Support Staff?
As we celebrate National School Counselor Week (February 4-8, 2019), it’s a great time to remember to extend your gratitude to all mental health support staff working in your environment. School psychologists, school counselors, social workers, and school nurses are all part of a larger system that looks out for the well-being of our young people every day. These professionals work hard behind the scenes to make sure that vulnerable students get resources they need, and everyone in your education community is supported. Here are some ideas you could leverage to check in on your MHP’s this month.
1. Ask how they’re doing. MHP’s are so often the ones looking out for others, that sometimes they overlook their own well-being. A genuine inquiry can go a long way to making these providers feel seen and valued.
2. Give them an opportunity to be creative. We hear that sometimes mental health professionals can feel isolated in the basic requirements of their positions, and they don’t get to flex creative muscles in other ways to benefit their school or program. Do you have some supplies to spare for them to create a bulletin board or visual display? Maybe they are interested in leading a dance or movement group one afternoon, or helping to plan your community garden for the spring. Tapping into creativity can be invigorating, especially during these short winter days.
3. Empower your students to show their appreciation. Does your MHP lead a lunch bunch, or student group? Have they impacted a group of young people in any way, large or small? Reach out to these students (or tap one or two to lead the effort) and work with them to make a thank you poster, arrange a shout out during morning announcements, or surprise them with the attention they deserve.
4. Be specific about what you have learned from them. Mental health professionals are experts in so many things that impact our day to day experiences – and they often share this expertise with those around them. Did you get an idea for a coping tool that you now use? Did they give you valuable insight into a particular student’s needs? Did they share an interesting book or article recommendation? Thank them, specifically, for that learning. Being specific about what you learned lets MHP’s know that you were listening and that their work is noticed.
5. Join in the fun during National School Counseling Week. The American School Counseling Association has arranged a whole week’s worth of fun activities that you can share around your school or program and on social media. You can find the full list here. We can’t wait to follow along with what you share!