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.
Employee Assistance Program
Through Northwest Counseling Solutions, each CPPS employee has 3 free sessions each year. Please contact Northwest Counseling directly to set up an appointment: 509.525.8844 or email@example.com.