I can tell you from personal experience and the research I did for my master’s project that, when experiencing a mental health issue, it helps to talk to someone — whether a friend, colleague, family member or a professional. That’s how it was for me in 2002 as I suffered silently under the weight of PTSD after a traumatic incident at school. The first step to a journey of learning and healing for me started with an initial conversation. It was challenging to admit I needed help, but it all started with a conversation that led to the support I needed to regain my confidence.
The first week of May marks Education Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s mental health week, along with the ATA’s Hats on for Mental Health on May 5. There has been a lot of discussion about mental health throughout the pandemic, and rightfully so. It has been extremely stressful personally and professionally for everyone. For more than two years, we have been told to stay home, to isolate, to stand six feet apart. We were offered daily, sometimes weekly changes to the rules we had to follow — it was confusing and frustrating for all of us, especially our students.
Now we are told it’s time to learn to live with Covid; however, I would contest that living with Covid is exactly what we have been doing since the early days of 2020. This constant messaging and misinformation about Covid has taken a toll on all of us. That’s why it’s important for all of us to talk about the mental health struggles we are experiencing. I often think about how we, as a teaching profession and a society, can come out of this and move past the challenges the pandemic has highlighted. I believe that the support systems we build and enhance will be very important.
Talking may not solve all our problems, but taking that first initial step of admitting that you are not okay is in fact okay. It’s also important for teachers and school leaders to model for our students the fact that we all need help at times. Students look to us for guidance, leadership and support. So, on May 5, don your best hat and show your support for mental health. ❚
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