Toxic stress of pandemic could impact future academic, business outcomes
Strategies offered for families, educators, businesses to boost health and success in life, school and business
People across Clark County – and the world – are dealing with varying degrees of isolation, stress and anxiety stemming from the coronavirus shutdown and quarantine. This creates a toxic stress and trauma that can overwhelm and paralyze a person. As social distancing and quarantine precautions are reduced, there will be a continued impact that may affect productivity and profits for businesses, student achievement in schools, and family dynamics. The following three trainings offer a framework to cope with these difficult circumstances – whether we are at home, school, or work – thanks to a grant from The Greater Clark Foundation (GCF).
Focus on Families
Focus on Education
Focus on Businesses
“Our lives are all very different now,” said Patricia Stewart-Hopkins, Clark County Mental Health Task Force chair. “We’re all experiencing different degrees of toxic stress, and it will surface as disciplinary problems in school, absenteeism for students and employees, job-related injuries, reduced productivity, and family strife. These trainings help you be more effective by bringing awareness to the signs of toxic stress and offering a more intentional way of responding to this collective experience. This helps us meet our individual and collective need for security, and will lead to a healthier community overall.”
Research shows people respond to this type of toxic stress – and traumatic experience – by learning to adapt to keep themselves safe. That can include withdrawing from others, micro-managing, self-injurious or high-risk behaviors like abusing substances, gambling, overspending, and having unprotected sex.
“These coping behaviors won’t be tolerated in businesses or schools, but in order to succeed – as a school district, a business, a family, a community – we must understand how to help people rise above their traumatic experiences,” said Jen Algire, president and CEO, GCF. “Consider if when school returns, we suddenly see 50 percent more students acting out. Our current disciplinary process won’t be the best way to handle these students who are in reality struggling to cope with the trauma caused by such upheaval and uncertainty in their normal everyday lives.”
We can choose to react in a healthier way to reduce our experience of vulnerability and increase our feeling of control. The trainings provide actionable strategies to replace these risky behaviors with healthier alternatives in the education sector, business sector, and at home.
Studies show when supervisors and managers recognize these behaviors as a person trying to overcome the effects of toxic stress, there are massive benefits for staff and the business as a whole, including:
- Improved job satisfaction, employee retention, and attendance
- Higher productivity
- Improved creativity and problem solving
- Increased employee substance abuse, “burn out”, and turnover
- Fewer workplace injuries and illness1,2,3
In schools, research shows students become more resilient, leading to:
- Significant behavior improvements
- Fewer suspensions
- Fewer expulsions
- Significant academic achievement improvements4
Meet the Trainers
Bradlee Y. Burtner, MSW, LCSW
Bradlee has been in private practice since 2018, and serving as as a mental health therapist since 2015. He encourages problem solving and skill building from a holistic approach involving spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. Whether he is offering crisis, couples, mental health or grief counseling, his warm acceptance and unconditional positive regard offer connectivity that enhances self-understanding and recovery. His energy and commitment to the greater good is contagious and an asset in his varied roles as a clinical supervisor, mental health clinic coordinator, and trainer. He received his B.A. from Transylvania University and an MSW from the University of Kentucky.
Maggie Gough, founder and CEO of Realize Wellbeing, has dedicated her life to helping create workplaces that exude energy and innovation through their vibrant, thriving people. Throughout her rich career in the corporate wellness industry, she has consulted for the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), health technology companies, and employers. She most recently wrote the COVID-19 toolkits for WELCOA that were provided to employer members across the nation.
Patricia F. Stewart-Hopkins, Ed.D., LPCC-S
Patricia Stewart-Hopkins, Ed.D, LPCC-S, is the Regional Program Director of Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, Co-Chair of the Clark County Mental Health Task, and graduate professor at Lindsey Wilson College. In her work as a clinical and administrative supervisor, educator, and community change agent she emphasizes the importance of trauma informed responsivity and mental health advocacy. Her service as a therapist focuses on supporting the growth of children and families by promoting understanding and compassion during their journey towards healing. Fifteen years of experience in these areas has prepared her for work as a consultant and trainer working alongside educators, clinicians, and leadership teams. In the near future she plans to pursue public office to further her opportunity to serve children and families in Clark County.
- Baker, C. et. al. (2015). Development and psychometric evaluation of the attitudes related to trauma-informed care (ARTIC) scale. School Mental Health.
- Fletcher, Natasha O., & King, Asia N. (2016). The efficacy of a trauma informed methodology for Hopeworks ‘N Camden. Rutgers Center for Urban Research and Education. Retrieved from: http://hopeworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/HW-Report-FINAL.pdf
- Anda, R. (2006). The Health and Social Impact of Growing Up With Alcohol Abuse & Related Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Human and Economic Costs of the Status Quo.