Published: 13 May 2021 / 19:12 CDTUpdated: May 13, 2021 / 7:12 PM CDT
It’s not uncommon for us to talk about the importance of students ’mental health, but we rarely hear anything about teacher well-being, but that’s why a nonprofit wants to change this narrative in an innovative way.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the last year overwhelming, at least, for educators, and they very rarely have anyone to turn to.
“I think the teacher’s mental health is incredibly ignored,” said Heidi Woods, an OpenMIND Mindfulness educator.
While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, community leaders like Woods talk about the issue year-round as part of their position with the non-profit OpenMIND.
“I did a workshop here a couple of years ago about teacher fatigue and exhaustion and we really just recognized that teachers give and give and give and what we want to do is go back to teachers,” Woods said.
So, they did exactly that.
“The rooms are fairly new. Now they have only been implemented for a couple of weeks, ”he said.
What it refers to is the “Room To Breathe” spaces.
These two rooms are located just inside Washington Elementary in Minot.
“So we created a portal where the teacher can just pick up the cell phone, scan a QR code, and register for a time throughout the day,” Woods said.
The rooms are equipped with massage chairs, guided meditations, dim lighting and everything a teacher may need to get away from their busy day and simply relax.
“The room is very nice for teachers and educators because we feel a lot of conscious and unconscious tension,” said Andrea Landsiedel, a Washington elementary speech pathologist.
“It’s been great to go to the room and have just a couple of minutes to breathe, pick up my thoughts and then be my best self to help students who need it,” said Washington Elementary Special Education teacher Kendra Neff.
The Room To Breathe project is still in its early stages and Washington Elementary is the first in a pilot program.
“Knowing that this is a highly consumed profession. We wanted to give our teachers a place where they could really feel they were validated when they feel this exhaustion, ”said Kendo Carlson, Washington’s primary school principal.
Woods says teaching is tied to nursing because it has higher stress rates compared to most other careers, so having that room in schools and beyond is critical.
“I think any place where people experience large amounts of stress is an opportunity for that,” Woods said.
Woods claims that anyone can implement these rooms in their establishment.