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Presby Psych offering free counseling to CMS employees as burnout leads to resignations

The pandemic has been hard on teachers and many say stress is leading them to consider a new career.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The impacts of the pandemic are still felt and seen in the classroom. Kids and teachers have been on a rollercoaster ride. From the monumental switch to remote learning, navigating the hybrid model and now trying to readjust after so much time spent away.

Teachers said they’re struggling with students who missed out on two years of socialization and who have learning loss. It’s all taking a toll on them.

CMS is experiencing a wave of resignations and retirements this school year. Some teachers said it has a lot to do with stress.

Remote learning was a challenge for everyone, but it left some teachers questioning their careers.

“My soul died a little bit when that last kid turned off the video and I was just talking to black screens," Justin Ashley, an 8th-grade history teacher with CMS, said. "It was like, are they hearing me? Are they even in the room? Is what I’m doing meaningful, is it making a difference? And I think that’s an issue a lot of teachers faced."

He said he’s experienced burnout too, years ago, so he was prepared to manage the anxiety that came with the pandemic. But he knows many others weren’t. He’s now seeing the impact it’s had on his colleagues and the school system.

“Some of my students have had two or three teachers in the same subject area in the same year because the teachers will only stay for a few months,” he said. “And I understand.”

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CMS officials told WCNC Charlotte that since August 2021, 875 teachers have left.

Presby Psych is stepping in to help. Next week, they’ll announce they’re offering five free counseling sessions to all CMS employees, in hopes it can give them an outlet to relieve some of the stress and anxiety brought on by work.

“Stress, in particular, doesn’t just affect your mood and level of anger and depression and anxiety; it also affects your body,” Mary Gail O’Day, the Executive Director of Presby Psych said.

She said counselors can be a sounding board for employees and give them coping mechanisms.

Cost can often be a prohibitive factor, so Ashley thinks this service can be a game changer.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

“I think [it] could really save the careers of a lot of teachers in the Charlotte area, and it’s also going to trickle down to kids too,” Ashley said.

Presby Psych offers similar services to health care workers and first responders.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.