Tennessee Department of Education on Thursday, May 6 released the Educator Emotional Support Video Series to provide free, optional resources to support the mental health of Tennessee educators, created in partnership with statewide partners.

In support of Teacher Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the video series provides guidance, resources, and interactive activities by two licensed clinical social workers focusing on the mental health of Tennessee educators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, this video series builds off the Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress, launched in partnership with Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and other statewide organizations, to provide free and confidential mental health support to all Tennesseans working in education, healthcare workers, and first responders.

“Educators have faced significant challenges and hurdles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including shifting from virtual to in-person instruction while ensuring our students continue to learn.” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “As a parent, I appreciate their dedication and ongoing support and I am grateful we can provide these essential resources to help our educators manage their stress and continue the critical work of educating our children.”

The Educator Emotional Support Video Series consists of five videos, available on Best for All Central and the department’s YouTube channel, including the following:

1. Introduction to Stress Response: This video session introduces the series, recognizing educators experience significant pressure from many directions during a normal school year and this year has only added pressure.

2. Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness: This video session focuses on mindfulness, state of awareness, and how to shift attention to focus on support.

3. Grief and Loss: This video session begins with practicing a mindfulness skill from the previous video. Additionally, this video session shares the stages of grief and associated feelings.

4. Maintaining and Managing Healthy Connections: This video session focuses on the importance of connection and relationships, including a grounding and connectedness exercise.

5 Self-Care: This videos session highlights self-care as a lifestyle and how to create and implement a self-care plan.

In partnership with external partners and private mental health practitioners, these videos and associated materials were designed to help educators practice strategies to manage stresses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beth Goodner, chief executive officer of TrustPoint Hospital, said, “The last 18 months have been complex, and educators have faced significant challenges and obstacles while simultaneously working to keep their students engaged. In memory of Dr. Linda Gilbert, and in honor of May being Teacher Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, I am grateful to and appreciative of the Tennessee Department of Education, as well as Mai Ferrell and Robin Morgan Bayne, for bringing this emotional support video series to fruition.

“I want our educators to be armed with the knowledge of various coping skills that will better equip them to engage fully in their personal and professional lives. Tennessee educators do much more than teach. They impact students for a lifetime.”

Jacy Warrell, executive director of Rural Health Association of Tennessee, added, “Educators and school health professionals have exceptionally challenging jobs, with front row seats to the impacts of poor health, hunger, and child trauma. These videos are a much-needed prescription to support the physical and mental health of our educators.”

And Clark Flatt, president of The Jason Foundation, said, “The Jason Foundation recognizes and champions mental health supports,. Through my son Jason’s story, we know how critical it is for educators, who are often the first to notice when our children are struggling, to have access to mental health resources to continue supporting our children. We’re proud of the life-changing impact of educators and want to be a part of ensuring they, too, have the support they need.”

Angela Webster, executive director of Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee, added, “The pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on all of us in some way. Ensuring we do our part to focus on the professionals who guide our children from birth to high school and empower them with resources, particularly those emphasizing self-care and relational health, is central to the work we do. We are pleased to support the Tennessee Department of Education on this critical work to support Tennessee’s educators.”

The Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress is available via call or text at 888-642-7886 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT daily.