Summer Recharge for MN School Social Workers
Friday, July 1, 2022
Research is emerging about the secondary trauma school staff members face after helping students during the pandemic. As summer moves forward, school social workers in Minnesota say there are ways to seek a manageable environment when classes resume this fall.
New findings in the journal Psychology in the Schools noted teachers and support staff have had difficulty finding time for self-care as work demands pile up. It coincides with more students needing mental-health support.
Brooke Davis, a school social worker at Hopkins Public Schools, recommended colleagues collectively reflect on their jobs this summer, and express to administrators which duties should be prioritized.
"Honestly, that reflection, and teaming and collaborating, has brought me more comfort and peace than any hobby," Davis acknowledged.
School districts had hoped for more funding this spring to add staff in light of Minnesota's historic budget surplus. But talks fell apart as the session ended. And with leaders from both major political parties still at odds, a special session seems unlikely right now.
Davis, a member of the Minnesota School Social Workers Association, said for staff still feeling burnout, therapy is an option to consider.
"Not only for yourself, but also, it creates this parallel process where we are getting support from someone, and we are supporting other people," Davis explained. "And we can see how those two processes are happening at the same time."
She contended it allows staff to better serve the students they work with. Davis added the increasing demands in the last two years include responding to behavioral issues as students get re-acclimated to classroom settings.
Separately, a recent Surgeon General's report suggests school districts establish realistic workloads and student-to-staff ratios in addressing concerns about well-being.
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