Programs & Learning
In the spring of 2021, SBH1363: Addressing Workforce Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) in the K-12 workforce was passed into legislation. This legislation acknowledges the significant toll STS has on educators and, subsequently students, and focuses on the adoption of policy and procedures so that districts and schools can take meaningful steps in supporting their staff’s health and well-being.
The Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development defines Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) as "…the emotional distress that arises when someone vicariously experiences the traumatic experiences of another individual. Sometimes known as compassion fatigue, the toll of tending to someone's painful experiences can create very real symptoms in caregivers, including teachers.“
Ensuring the wellbeing of educators is a critical component to sustaining an effective workforce and promoting student outcomes. By implementing policy through strategic use of professional learning and a continuous improvement process, districts and schools can reduce staff turnover, increase student outcomes, and model healthy behaviors for the entire school community.
Certificated and classified staff, like many others in helping professions, tend to experience STS at greater rates than those in other professions due to the persistent exposure to and expectation of caretaking for students with emotionally painful experiences. In other words, STS can be an outcome of what is an educators greatest asset: they care deeply about their students and families. Signs and symptoms of STS vary but when left unaddressed may lead to staff turnover, burnout, adult chronic absenteeism and health issues which negatively impacts everyone in the school community.
House Bill 1363 requires all school districts in the state of Washington to establish a district-wide team to:
Share STS, stress management, and other mental health resources from OSPI, ESD and SEBB (HCA)
Share links to STS self-assessment tools and associated resources
Report to district school board annually on district workforce mental health committee activities
Conduct regular assessments of district and school level implementation inclusive of input form workforce
Provide appropriate resources and training
Adopt, or amend if necessary, policies and procedures that, at a minimum, incorporate all the elements.
Districts must periodically review their policies and procedures for consistency with updated versions of the model policy and procedure.
Here are some resources available to you:
Alliance for a Healthier Generation
We are excited to announce our partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation! A statewide team of experts curated a list of resources and developed a Washington state specific assessment to assist districts in the implementation of HB 1363. Please visit WA Educators Secondary Traumatic Stress Resources to view them. Please note, you will be prompted to create a free account.
SmartHealth is an online wellness program that supports your whole person well-being. It is included in your SEBB benefits at no cost to you. Join activities that support all of you, such as managing stress, building resiliency, and adapting to change.
Blue Zones Project is a community-wide, evidence-based approach to improve health and well-beng in making healthier choices easier for everyone. Learn more at: Blue Zones
You can find more information about this legislation on the OSPI website at: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/health-safety/workforce-secondary-traumatic-stress.
Address the Stress
Stress is not always a bad thing – it serves a purpose. Stress can push us to work on problems or get out of bad situations. The Stress Response floods our bodies with chemicals and hormones that help us act quickly. Yet, we still have a flood of chemicals and hormones in our bodies but no release valve to get rid of them. This is why our Stress Response can cause mental and physical health issues. To help reduce the negative affects of the Stress Response, our community is coming together to show you ways in which you can finish your Stress Cycle, release the chemicals and hormones in your body, and come back to a healthy baseline. Find out more here: https://wallawallavalley.bluezonesproject.com/address-the-stress/
Employee Assistance Program
EAP services for employees and their household adult family members help address work and personal concerns, including counseling and work/life (legal and financial) resources. CPPS employees are eligible for the Employee Assistance Program through Washington State Department of Enterprise Services. To learn more visit Employees | Department of Enterprise Services (DES) (wa.gov)
Washington State ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
What is Secondary Traumatic Stress and the policy? Watch this short video for an explanation.