Mental Health Resources for Teachers and Educators

Mental Health Awareness Header

May is Mental Health Month—an initiative established more than six decades ago and is more important now than ever.

Educators are on the front lines as they seek to strengthen their students’ mental and spiritual well-being. 

God calls us to share our gifts and talents with the world, and as educators, that means leading, guiding, and serving as examples of virtue for our students. 

We are best equipped to do that when we begin from a position of strong spiritual and mental health. 

At Hallow, we believe that a close relationship with God through daily prayer paves the way for this.

Finding Peace Through Prayer as Educators

Several research studies have shown that a routine practice of prayer can have measurable effects on a person’s resilience, happiness, and performance. 

Prayer feeds our soul; a nourished soul is more equipped to navigate life’s hurdles and mental struggles. 

At Hallow, we believe it is a foundational element for spiritual and mental wellness, as it connects us to God. 

Lectio Divina: Drawing Comfort & Solace from Scripture

Prayer is not meant to be a monologue but a dialogue between God and us – and Lectio Divina is a beautiful way for us to practice daily conversation with the Lord. 

Lectio Divina (Latin for “divine reading”) is an ancient form of prayer where we slowly read or listen to a passage from Scripture. Then, we spend time meditating on it, noticing what stands out to us about the reading, acknowledging any thoughts or feelings it elicits, and responding to God by sharing them. 

Saint Cyprian tells us: “When you pray, you speak with God, when you read, God speaks to you.” 

Lectio is a wonderful way for us to practice actively listening to God’s voice, anchoring our prayer in His Word, drawing wisdom and solace from it while still allowing space for us to share and entrust our struggles to Him. 

The Daily Examen: The Gift of Intentional Reflection

Educators dedicate themselves selflessly to teaching and guiding others, which is extremely rewarding. But, as with any vocation, our daily lives are full of ups and downs. 

Reflective prayer is a powerful gift that can help us navigate these ups and downs, allowing us to view moments of joy, challenges, and setbacks within the broader context of our lives, revealing God’s presence with us. 

Seeing how God is working in our lives can provide profound clarity and foster peace of mind that can sustain us through our most difficult times.

The Examen is a beautiful yet practical form of reflective prayer we can practice daily.

Originally shared by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises, the Examen invites us to review our day, identifying moments where we experienced God, were challenged, or struggled. 

We then anticipate tomorrow and where the Spirit may lead us.

St. Ignatius believed that the Examen was a gift from God to be shared as widely as possible. He believed in its impact so strongly that, when founding the Jesuits, he made praying the Daily Examen requirement for the entire order.

He may have been on to something…

In addition to helping us to be more aware of God’s presence, a daily habit of reflection can be a powerful tool for strengthening our mental health. 

Several studies have linked a practice of gratitude, a key part of the Examen, with improved mental health.

Practicing the Examen daily helps us to identify both the positive and the negative. It then guides us to seek God’s infinite mercy and grace, releasing ourselves from guilt, shame, or sorrow while inviting us to look forward to what He has in store for us.

Practicing the Daily Examen:

  1. Invite: Begin by inviting God to review your day with you.
  2. Give Thanks: Reflect on the gifts of the day and express gratitude for God’s blessings, even the ones that are “in disguise.”
  3. Review: Think through the day’s events and how we responded to what the Lord put before us. 
  4. Respond: Share your thoughts and feelings with God and listen for His guidance.
  5. Look Forward: Spend a moment anticipating the challenges and joys of tomorrow and ask God to prepare us for them.

Whatever we may be going through, the Daily Examen can help us see God’s presence in our lives more clearly. 

Instilling Mental Health Practices in Our Students

Young people today are suffering from overwhelming levels of anxiety, making it more important now than ever before that they develop healthy habits that foster mental wellness through spiritual strength as they grow.

Looking to the Saints for Inspiration & Intercession 

Praying with the saints, and asking saints to pray for us, reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles.

This is particularly important for young people, and saints can provide beautiful inspiration to turn to during difficult times.

Whatever your students may be going through, there is a good chance there is a saint who has experienced something similar. 

You can turn to a saint with a similar experience (or any saint) to ask for their prayers and look to them for inspiration and guidance in growing closer to God, even amidst daily struggles.

Some saints you can introduce them to:

  • St. Dymphna: The patron saint of mental illness who was martyred under tragic circumstances
  • St. Oscar Romero: Diagnosed late in his life with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
  • St. Francis de Sales: Battled deep depression and hopelessness before turning his life over to God and discovering his call to the priesthood.

Practicing Christian Meditation

While secular meditation is rooted in “mindfulness” — turning us inward to seek solitary silence — Christian meditation allows us to enter into silence with God, filling our hearts with His presence. 

We can do this by using different forms of prayer like Lectio Divina or The Examen, which allow students a way to practice listening for God’s voice.

While we do “let go” of things while practicing Christian meditation, the primary purpose of this prayer method is always to grow closer to God. By offering up our sorrows or worries to God, asking Him to take control – which can be incredibly relieving for a young person who may be struggling with overwhelm, anxiety, or stress.

Becoming Mentally Resilient Through Surrender

No matter our age or stage of life, we are called to surrender to Christ. allow Him to take our worries, struggles, challenges, and burdens. As educators, there are often situations where we feel helpless, frustrated, or stuck. 

It is during these times that we can turn to God and surrender our fears and worries through prayers like these:

Litany of Trust

Written by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia of the Sisters of Life, the Litany of Trust leads us to pray for less self-reliance and more trust in Jesus and His overflowing love for us.

The litany first helps put into words the fears, worries, and refusals we struggle with that hold us back from placing our complete trust in Jesus. Then, in the second part of the litany, we state our trust in Jesus, relying on the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to do so. 

Surrender Novena

In the Surrender Novena, we turn away from ourselves and towards Jesus, who wraps us in His arms and takes care of everything in His everlasting love for us. 

The Surrender Novena comes from Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, a Servant of God and candidate for beatification (to become a saint). Jesus revealed to Fr. Dolindo the words that make up this novena. Fr. Dolindo, who called himself “Mary’s little old man,” suffered for much of his life, even living in paralysis for the last ten years before his death. 

He was also, at one time, the spiritual director and a friend of Padre Pio, who similarly found the love of Christ in his suffering. 

Both Fr. Dolindo and Padre Pio left us with many words and prayers that guide us toward surrendering ourselves to Christ. They also inspire us to always meet others with mercy and love, representative of their surrender to Christ and His love for us. 

In praying this novena of surrender, we meditate on the same words Jesus gave Fr. Dolindo over nine days, in which we hear Jesus tell us to give Him everything and to place our complete trust in Him. 

Turn to the Surrender Novena whenever you struggle to take care of something on your own, whenever you struggle to give over a worry, doubt, or suffering to God. 

Pray this novena to give everything to Jesus and say, “Jesus, you take care of it.”

Divine Mercy Chaplet

Pope Saint John Paul II once said, “Where, if not in the Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope?”

The Divine Mercy Chaplet was originally given to St. Faustina in 1935. It serves as a reminder that no matter what challenges we face, the mercy of the Lord is boundless, and He invites us to take courage and solace in it. 

We are called to recognize our weakness and offer our anxieties and worries with abundant trust in God, repeating fervently: “Jesus, I trust in You.”

Looking for more resources to elevate your and your student’s spiritual and mental wellness? We’re here to support you! Hallow can integrate seamlessly into your curriculum, helping students grow in faith and build a practice of daily prayer. Learn more about Hallow for Schools partnerships here.

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