Free mental health counseling services offered as teachers face mounting pandemic stress

HOUSTON – The University of St. Thomas is expanding its “Healing Our Heroes” initiative by offering free mental health counseling services to teachers.

UST first launched its program in September 2020 as a way to give back to the community during this pandemic by offering free mental health counseling to front line workers, including health care workers and first responders in the Houston area.

Long term impact of pandemic stress believed to be significant

Mental health experts believe the long term impact of pandemic stress and fatigue on teachers could be significant. They have so many new demands they have to meet.

“The stress and fatigue teaching online can cause teachers right now is something that we really need to handle now,” said Dr. Grant Sasse, clinic director, Healing Our Heroes.

Educators are facing even more of a strain during the COVID-19 pandemic as they continue to work longer hours and adjust to their new normal, one that for many includes teaching remotely.

Free sessions available for K-12 teachers

The sessions begin Jan. 11 and are offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during UST’s spring academic semester, which ends in early May 2021. The virtual sessions will be conducted by counselors in training and supervised by a licensed professional counselor.

“We have all the technology, we have all the space. we have everything up and running so we can have a full caseload in here now,” Dr. Sasse said.

Mental health counseling benefits for teachers

Dr. Sasse said teachers are so busy helping others, their own needs go unmet. UST’s mental health counseling will give them the support they need.

“I think if teachers seek help during, really, the intense periods like right now, I think it will make it a lot easier to get back in the swing of things once we are back to face to face,” Dr. Sasse said.

The clinic is ready to accept you calls and is also working with the university to get the word out about it’s free services to educators in rural districts across the greater Houston area.

If you’re a teacher and would like to schedule an appointment, call 713-525-3879.

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