March 12, 2021 | Volume 2, Number 2
Connecting to Combat Compassion Fatigue & Burnout
By Jackson Sims, CEI Intern

The role of an educator is far from static. On any given day, an educator can take on a number of duties, ranging from teaching in the classroom to having a private conversation with a student or their family. Regardless of these small differences, there is one common thread: Compassion. Educators are often characterized by kindness, patience, and a commitment to the growth and well-being of their students. The level of emotional investment required of an educator can be draining, potentially leading to an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion known as compassion fatigue. If left unaddressed, compassion fatigue can turn into burnout, causing some educators—often the ones who care the most—to leave the field or experience ongoing health issues as a result. What causes these feelings, and what actions can be taken to minimize their effects?
News You Can Use
By Jennie Liang, CEI Intern

Protection against compassion fatigue and burnout starts with self-awareness. This is a powerful tool to help you notice your interactions with others, emotions, and reactions to stressful situations that arise. Becoming aware of levels of stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue will allow you to more readily seek out additional support when needed. 

Fostering connection in different areas of your life is key to building resiliency to protect against compassion fatigue and burnout. These include strengthening connections with others, yourself, and your work.

Maintaining social connections is crucial to building resilience and emotional balance. While strong relationships with colleagues are helpful, it is also important to make time for friends outside of work. Catching up with a friend or taking a walk together can help destress and distract from work. Beyond creating social bonds, friends and family are also an important support network in times of stress.

By Dana Asby, CEI Director of Innovation & Research Support

The logistical and emotional hoops that COVID-19 has forced us to jump through have left educators and families exhausted. As the U.S. rolls out vaccines, more and more schools are opening up, with many forced to close back down after a coronavirus outbreak. Administrators are acting as principal and substitute teacher. Teachers are juggling online and in-person classes, often simultaneously. Family members are playing the role of at-home educators while working forty plus hours a week on their own laptops right across the kitchen table. Almost everyone is feeling burnt out and wondering when this will all be over. 

The Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative (C-TLC) has created spaces for educators, healthcare workers, and families of Pre-K-12 students to connect, learn wellness strategies, and share their experiences navigating mental health challenges during the pandemic through our Compassionate Conversations program.

By Aparajitha Suresh, CEI Intern

Having worked as a mental health provider for over three years, Ali Sumski is no stranger to finding compassion amid burnout and fatigue. Sumski works at Methuen High School, a public high school located in a gateway city. Here, the student body features a higher than average percentage of students who have experienced trauma, housing insecurity, abuse, and/or neglect at home, resulting in a heavy and mentally taxing workload for school counselors. But despite her initial inexperience in situations of intense trauma, Sumski became “hungry for experiences to do her job better” and joined the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative (C-TLC) to acquire the network and skills necessary to better provide to the students under her care.
Learn more about the amazing work our Fellows have been doing through the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative and in their school communities in our
Events and Resources
Access and share C-TLC resources:

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 30th @ 3 p.m.
Location: Online

Join us for a conversation about your successes and struggles dealing with compassion fatigue and burnout. Learn tips and strategies to keep your stress from taking over and how to give these tools to our family members, and experience a brief mindfulness practice you can share with anyone in your life.

National School Health National Quality Initiative Collaborative Improvement and Innovations Network (CoIIN) Learning Collaborative Tracks: 1) School-based health centers and 2) Comprehensive school mental health systems. States and districts are invited to apply and watch this informational webinar.

Stay posted to our Events page for updates and announcements.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
C-TLC School Mental Health Survey

Our surveys allow us to collect quantitative and qualitative data about the successes, challenges, and needs around cultivating compassionate school communities to buffer against and alleviate childhood trauma within schools, in New England and throughout the nation.

To further our work together, please complete our survey. Your feedback is important and it will guide our dialogue and program implementation efforts.
Healthcare workers & Educators Addressing and Reducing Trauma
The Healthcare workers & Educators Addressing and Reducing Trauma (HEART) Collective is a New England regional effort designed to help school communities and community healthcare centers collaborate intentionally and concretely around best practices that enhance and improve youth mental health supports.

This regional initiative is a collaboration with:

  • The SAMHSA Region 1 Office
  • The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Regional Operations (Region 1),
  • The New England MHTTC, and
  • New England FQHCs and school community stakeholders.

Our goal is to map, document, and analyze processes, resources, and strategies that advance youth mental health supports by establishing and strengthening collaborations between schools/districts and community health centers.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lena Horne

We are all really tired, and justifiably so. These are the words our C-TLC members are using to describe themselves: exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, burned-out, done. But they are also using other words: grateful, accepting, connected, inspired.  

We want to take a moment to honor the work you have done and the sacrifices you have made—in your classrooms and communities, in your own homes, and in your selves. We see you, and we are here to support you.