The mental health toll of mental health work

The mental health toll of mental health work

Caroline Fay, Staff Writer

A therapist’s job is to listen to all kinds of trauma and difficult situations on a daily basis and give patients counseling and advice. Doing this as a profession must take a toll on them. Hearing about everyone else’s grieving and trauma makes them highly susceptible to developing their own emotional issues. In fact, therapists probably need therapists of their own. A study in 1994 by Kenneth Pope and Barbara Tabachnick shows that 84% of therapists have needed and received psychotherapy themselves. 

Stamford High School’s own support staff is no exception. As a community, when there are traumatic events, we are all affected by it. So, when it comes to instances like student/teacher deaths or active shooter threats, our social workers may need someone to fall back on too. 

One of our social workers, Katie Olsen, said, “I think that social workers are people just like anyone else, and we’re trained to navigate these situations.” She also thinks that hearing such devastating things weighs heavily on them like it would on any other person. She emphasized how important it is for all people to have an outlet, whether it is their family, friends, or a therapist. 

“What’s really nice about Stamford High is that there are four social workers, so we kind of talk to each other and debrief together, and we can lean on each other. But it definitely is something that we find ourselves needing as well,” Olsen said.

She also discussed the steps she and her coworkers took to help themselves as well as students after the recent active shooter scare. 

“What was really nice was that we (the support staff at Stamford High) were able to debrief and kind of process it together,” she explained about the incident. “We have people in district teams from other schools who were able to come and initially be the ones who spoke and responded to students and staff because we had been in it ourselves, so we were kind of in the same boat.” 

An intense incident like this is likely to leave everyone involved at least a little shook up. So, having people available to step in for our social workers is the best solution for everyone to be able to process what is happening.

During tough times in life, everyone needs someone to talk to, including therapists. This kind of support system helps students and staff work through anything they may be going through. Stamford High School is here to support all of us, so do not be afraid to reach out.