What is Starling Minds & How is it Helping Teachers?
After researching, The State of Mental Health in U.S. Educators, we learned that 58% of K-12 teachers in America rate their mental health as “not good”. Considering that there are 3.2 million FTE teachers in the U.S., it’s safe to estimate that roughly 1.86 million full-time teachers are dealing with a mental health issue which may be in the form of anxiety, depression, insomnia, substance abuse and/or suicidal ideation.
We also learned that teacher mental health is declining because of the growing stressors in the occupation and that their stress levels are on par with nurses, and even higher than medical doctors. Teacher mental and physical wellness is severely being impacted and it’s not just hurting themselves and their families. It ripples into the classroom wherein studies show that higher teacher engagement is strongly correlated with greater student outcomes. Teacher mental health also impacts how students socially adjust to the classroom setting.
It doesn’t stop here. Student achievement is not the only cost at stake. Given the multitude of stressors teachers face, it is estimated that anywhere between 23-42% of teachers will leave the profession after 5 years. Such high turnover rates are costing U.S. schools $7.3 billion in losses every year.
Why Are Teachers Not Getting the Help They Need?
There are a few ways to answer this question but a large reason is access. Put simply, teachers do not have mental health resources available to them to get the help they need. In the U.S. there is a shortage of mental health workers. There is also stigma. In 2017, 56% of American adults who reported a mental illness did not receive treatment. Our Founder & CEO at Starling Minds, Dr. Andrew Miki, has worked with over 200 teachers over the past 10 years at his private practice to help them build mental resilience and coping mechanisms using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Dr. Andrew Miki shares another possible explanation as to why it might be hard for teachers to receive the help they need:
“As we all know teaching is a helping profession. When there are stigma and negative connotations surrounding mental health, it makes it hard for educators to reach out when they are struggling. We created Starling Minds to provide teachers, principals, and vice-principals with a safe and private online platform to receive mental health support when they need it most, anytime and anywhere.”
What is Starling Minds?
Starling Minds offers the leading scientifically-based mental health platform for educational organizations looking to take a proactive approach to promote mental well-being in the workplace. Our powerful online platform provides the knowledge, tools, and techniques to support, empathize with, and rehabilitate educators who are coping with stress, anxiety, and depression when they need it most — anytime, any place.
Starling is backed with 5 years of proven results in improving the mental health and wellness of educators. Research shows that 86% of teachers will improve their mental health scores after completing Starling Minds’ modules. These mental health scores fall into the categories of anxiety, depression, and worry.
Organizations who choose Starling Minds receive responsive support, periodic reports, and a customized success plan to facilitate healthier and happier teachers both in the classroom and at home. Based on statistics, we know that when teachers are more engaged, student performance improves. Teachers who use Starling Minds are more resilient and better equipped in the face of adversity, resulting in more confident leadership, stronger teams, and greater productivity.
How & Why Does Starling Minds’ Work?
Prior to beginning Starling’s evidence-based training, teachers complete a mandatory mental health assessment that rates their wellness on a scale from healthy to unhealthy. After working through modules at their own pace, teachers are then prompted to reassess their mental health. This helps them track where they are at through various times in the school year. Many members we speak with find it helpful to reflect on their assessments, as it helps them better understand and prepare for the external stressors that affect them. It also helps the Starling Team provide confidential data to schools when teacher stressors are increasing. For example, a Starling Minds’ customer was able to promptly respond with an internal campaign promoting a “Mental Fitness Challenge” when they noticed mental health scores declining.
Interactive & Dynamic
Starling Minds offers an immersive learning experience wherein teachers benefit from video, quizzes, surveys, and short-readings. It is truly a dynamic experience which you can see for yourself by requesting a demo. There is also a built-in goal setter and mood tracker that helps teachers stay on course.
“This is the best thing the Teachers’ Federation has ever done for us.”
— Starling Member 337, January 23, 2015
Built-in to our platform is a community composed of educators who are actively focused on improving their mental toughness. Members can anonymously share stories or ask for suggestions from other educators throughout the modules. This feature was built-into the solution based on Dr. Andrew Miki’s experience offering group-therapy sessions for educators. Teacher feedback routinely reports positive after group-therapy because it helps them understand that they are not alone.
“I wish this would have been offered to me after my 1st incident at work.”
—Disability Claim Member 5245, March 21, 2016
Benefits to Organizations
Starling Minds is offered in organizations across North America by leaders who care for their people. Today, over 150,000 lives are covered by Starling Minds. We recently surveyed existing clients to learn more about the felt impact of our program in their organization. We were happy to learn that it was not the added value of reduced absenteeism, quicker return to work rates for teachers on disability, and better performance in the classroom but rather, the value in offering support to their educators. Leaders who purchase Starling Minds do so because they know an added layer of support is deeply needed for their people.
“You can tell an organization’s commitment to well-being by the amount of the budget that they provide for that. Our principals and VPs see that we have committed to them and their health by offering the Starling Minds program at no additional cost to them or their family members.”
—Joe Geiser, Executive Director, CPCO