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Managing Our Mental Health

It’s a fact: educators are continuing to experience high levels of stress and burnout as are our students.

The amount of support you receive can significantly impact the amount of time it takes to recover from the stress response. We hope these resources can support your needs.

What is racial battle fatigue and how does it impact you?

Coined by Dr. William A. Smith, racial battle fatigue (RBF) is described as the “cumulative result of a natural race-related stress response to distressing mental and emotional conditions. These conditions emerged from constantly facing racially dismissive, demeaning, insensitive and/or hostile racial environments and individuals.”

Racial battle fatigue stems from microaggressions and racism. 

Symptoms you experience may include:

  • Heart racing
  • Increased stress response (adrenaline and cortisol)
  • Lowered immune system
  • Increased susceptibility to disease
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Difficulty speaking clearly

The Association of Black Psychologists has created a toolkit to start healing in the face of cultural trauma. To find out more about RBF and minority stress, this article from lemonaid describes how these experiences impact your mental health.

A Truly Inclusive Conversation Between Colleagues with Disabilities

Based on their lived experiences as individuals with mental health disabilities, visual impairment and substance use disorder, they offer their advice on what employers and fellow team members can do to create a truly inclusive and stigma free workplace.

Need Wellness Strategies?

Here are some ways to keep routines consistent:

  • Wake up at the same time every weekday.
  • Go to bed at a regular time.
  • Set a timer for regular breaks and meals during the day.

It’s important to stay socially connected with your friends, family, and teaching community.

Schedule a regular check-in with colleagues once a day or once a week. If you are struggling, you are not alone. It’s good to support each other during this time even if it’s through a five-minute call to say “hi” and share what’s new.

Pick up the phone and call a friend. Talking with friends and family over the phone or over an online video platform can be more beneficial than texting or social media. Venting your frustrations to a close friend can even release some of the stress you might be feeling.

According to this article on racial battle fatigue, sharing about your experiences with trusted and understanding people can be helpful in order to maintain resilience. Your support network is key to helping you feel seen and to put voice to the experiences you have had.

It’s important to have outside interests other than union work and teaching. Hobbies can bring a sense of joy, accomplishment, and reduce stress. According to this article by Dr. Elizabeth Scott, research found that enjoyable activities performed during leisure time were associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function. Such activities were also correlated with higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative effect.