As one suburban school teacher put it: “The stress never ends.”
She was responding to a 2017 Aetna survey that proved she wasn’t alone. The findings showed school employees with a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety and turnover compared to other professions due to a variety of factors such as classroom behavioral issues, increased class sizes and the focus on standardized testing scores.
With more than 1 million public school employees as members, Aetna is addressing the unique needs of this group by launching The School Employee Guidance program, the latest in the company’s ongoing commitment to improve its members’ emotional, physical and mental health.
“A teacher’s workday doesn’t end when the last bell rings. With the School Employee Guidance Program, teachers can connect to support when and how they need us, so that when the first bell rings the next day, they have all the tools in their back pocket to do the job they were inspired to do,” said Brooke Wilson, head of Worklife Services, Aetna Resources for Living.
Many existing school programs have been created in response to a tragic event or crisis, but The School Employee Guidance Program is different because it uses a combination of proactive individual and onsite group training and counseling for student behavior-based conflicts. The program also includes workshops on relevant topics including:
• Preventing burnout
• Coping with anxiety
• Managing challenging interactions
• Handling stress
• Addressing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD
Additionally, school employees enrolled in the program have access to a 24/7 help line for clinician support, confidential self-assessments, online webinars and videos on stress management and ADHD, and more.
The program is the result of a 2017 research study that Aetna conducted. The survey included teachers, professional staff and administrators nationwide from a cross-section of large and small districts in high and low communities to determine the top challenges in their industry. The research findings concluded that:
• 80 percent of survey participants said managing class behavior for ADD and ADHD caused significant stress
• 24 percent of survey participants expressed the need for an on-staff counselor, social worker or therapist
• The average class size has almost doubled from 15.1 to 27.1 students over time
To learn more about the program, visit the Aetna Public Sector website or contact your Aetna representative.