Psychologist wants teachers to beware of back-to-school anxiety

School shootings' ripple effects affect teacher's mental health

By Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A recent study showed that nearly half of all teachers say they experience a high level of stress and that anxiety has only grown as school shootings have become more common.   

Teaching has long made the list of most stressful occupations. Sande Hartman has been teaching in Broward County for 27 years. 

"We have to have fire drills and tornado drills and code red and code black drills," Hartman said. "And I think everyone is more aware now about the importance of the drills."

In the wake of the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, mental health experts say the anxiety level for teachers has skyrocketed. 

For teachers like Hartman, who send their own children off to school each day, psychologists say the stress can be even greater. 

"We have those feelings, but we understand that schools are safe places," Hartman said. "We understand that we will be taken care of and we're going to be taking care of you and it's going to be OK."

Gene Cash, a psychologist and professor at Nova Southeastern University, trains schools psychologists, and he has plenty of tips to help teachers combat anxiety.

Cash's list includes regular exercise, meditation, yoga, self-defense class, enough sleep, healthy eating and talking to your family, friends, clergy members or therapist. 

Cash said it is important for teachers to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety since both are linked to physical health problems such as sleep deprivation, weight gain and high blood pressure.

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