Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding and impactful careers anyone could choose. It’s also incredibly demanding. In the best of times, we may find ourselves feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I think we can all agree, though, that this year has been anything but “the best of times.” If you’re feeling more overwhelmed than usual, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve put together this list of resources and free counseling for teachers.
First, you should explore what’s available to you through your health insurance and human resources department. A lot has changed and you may have new options. While they may not be free, you might have access to low-cost counseling assistance. For other free counseling options, read on:
Employee Assistance Program
Most school districts have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that will provide you with a set number of free counseling sessions. To learn more, check with human resources, your insurance provider, teacher association, or union representative.
School District Wellness Programs
Some school districts have wellness programs that may include free mental health counseling for teachers.
United Federation of Teachers
The United Federation of Teachers’ Member Assistance Program (MAP) hosts virtual support groups offered via a HIPAA-compliant Zoom video conference. You can register for a general support group or one that focuses on grief and loss.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI hosts online community discussion groups where people exchange support and encouragement. You can create a free NAMI account to join and then contact your local NAMI Affiliate or check the NAMI National Warmline Directory to see what virtual and other resources are in your area.
This resource offers a free online chat for emotional support and low-cost counseling. They also provide paid online therapy with a licensed mental health professional. Services are offered in languages other than English, including Spanish.
This free, peer-to-peer online support community is a great option for people experiencing a range of mental health issues. 18percent also offers online mental health resources, quizzes, news, “ask the therapist,” and online support communities.
For Like Minds
An online mental health support network for people with, or supporting someone with, mental health conditions, substance use disorders, or stressful life events.
The Tribe Wellness Community
This free online support community offers members a convenient and safe place to connect. They’ve combined members from five long-standing support websites to create one fantastic wellness community.
Support Groups Central
Group video meetings and peer support led by trained facilitators.
This special education teacher offers free meditative art classes (Zentangle) for teachers.
Call4Calm is a mental health support line available to everyone in Illinois. It is free to use, and anonymity is guaranteed. Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0, or for Spanish, “HABLAR” to the same number.
Mental Health TX
Access this statewide COVID-19 mental health support line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 1-833-986-1919. If you identify as a frontline worker, ask about the no-cost, virtual support groups.
COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline
New York governor Andrew Cuomo called for volunteers to staff a mental health hotline, and six thousand therapy professionals responded. You can make a free phone appointment at 844-863-9314.
See a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist through your phone, computer, or the MDLIVE mobile app. Each visit costs between $0 and $82, depending on insurance so this could be a great resource for free counseling.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Provides 24/7 crisis support for people thinking about suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 1-888-628-9454 (Spanish), or 1-800-799-4889 (TTY, deaf, and hard of hearing).
Disaster Distress Helpline
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a trained counselor to talk with during COVID-19. Call 1-800-985-5990 (1-800-985-5990 for Spanish) or text “TalkWithUs” (“Hablanos” for Spanish) to 66746. For deaf or hard of hearing, text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 or 1-800-847-8517 (TTY).
National Domestic Violence
Provides counseling support for those experiencing emotional or physical abuse. Contact the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), TTY: 1-800-787-3224, or text “LOVEIS” to 22522. Translation is available for Spanish.
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
This resource is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who—through interpreters—provide assistance in over 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is a free, confidential service that can help. Call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or use the site’s online chat feature.
Veteran’s Crisis Line (24/7)
Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Use the online chat or call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. For Deaf and hard of hearing, TTY: 1-899-799-4889. This resource can enlist an interpreter in almost any language.
National Crisis Text Line (24/7)
Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support via a medium people already use and trust, text messaging, by texting “HOME” to 741741. The services are available in English Only. They recommend using the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Spanish.
Trevor Project Text Line (24/7)
Trained counselors are here to speak to young (ages 13-24) LGBTQ persons by text, phone, or chat. Call 1-866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678, or visit the website for more information. English only.
The Child Mind Institute
Provides virtual support for parents during the pandemic. Get more information on what is offered on the Child Mind Institute COVID-19 webpage.
The Steve Fund
Through its partnership with the Crisis Text Line, the Steve Fund promotes text messaging as a means to improve the critically-needed access for young people of color to crisis counseling. Text STEVE to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.
The Trans Lifeline is run by, and for, trans people, providing peer support through a hotline. Call 1-565-8860 (U.S) or 1-877-330-6366 (Canada).
A wide variety of self-help groups have gone virtual in light of the pandemic. They may not offer free counseling to teachers, but they could be a valuable resource.
Information and Referral Line
Call 211 for a comprehensive locator service for social supports including food, housing, money, legal, and additional mental and behavioral health services. There is a menu for English or Spanish, but 211 also provides help in multiple languages by pressing “0.”
Do you have other resources that offer free counseling for teachers? Share in the comments below.
Plus, check out Why Schools Are Turning to Online Help for Health Care.
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