Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

DeStress Monday in Baltimore Public Schools

Johns Hopkins University has teamed up with The Monday Campaigns to develop DeStress Monday in Schools, focused on teachers and students.
Well, as everyone out there knows, stress is one of the major issues. And it can lead to a lot of poor health outcomes. My name is Tamar Mendelson, and I’m an associate professor. I work in the Department of Mental Health, and also the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Teachers in Baltimore city schools often have classrooms of 30 children. Many of these kids may have unaddressed emotional and behavioral needs. And so teachers have their hands full during the day. I’m a general pediatrician here at Johns Hopkins.
I’ve been here for a while, and I was drawn to this work because I’m fascinated by how we might improve the experience that children have in their schools, and how we might support teachers in that as well. So, how we apply the Monday concept to De-Stress Monday is to think about Monday, beginning of the week, as a moment in time where you can really gather yourself, be in the present, and look back at what happened in the past week. It may be let go, if there’s anything that’s kind of negative that you want to shed. And then look forward to the coming week. And try to cultivate a positive attitude.
So the first thing we really wanted to know is whether teachers saw a need for this program, and what they thought about the stress they were under. And what kind of strategies would help them out. So we interviewed several teachers. We talked with them about their experience of stress, what it was like working day to day in public schools. One of the most common reasons that people don’t do anything to address their stresses that they do feel that they don’t have time. We worked closely with the Monday Campaigns, and they really helped us to translate some of the thoughts and ideas that we had into website content, and visuals, and graphics.
So on the De-stress Monday site there are an amazing range of resources people can use. That we’ve developed with both our hospital partners, like NYU Langone here in New York, as well as Johns Hopkins and others. So you can sign up for weekly emails that have some of those tips and practices people can use. A lot of content developed for the De-stress Monday general site is very relevant for our teacher site. And we used and adapted a lot of that content. What’s special about De-stress Mondays at school is that we created five different domains that were based on our interviews with teachers, in terms of what they might find especially helpful.
And then, we really tailored the descriptions of the practices and the audios and the videos specifically for how teachers can bring them into the classroom, or may be able to use them outside of school. So we try and address one of the barriers, in terms of time, and the feeling of being able to take the time for stress management, and skills that may reduce stress, by giving small amounts of mindfulness resources, incrementally in their inbox at times when they can access them, in ways that fit into their lives. So, teachers are the immediate participants in our program, and we’ve tailored it for teachers to be able to access and use.
But we also really think of the students as being stakeholders in this program. Our hope is that when teachers use these strategies, that they can create a more positive classroom climate for students to learn. Activities that are part of this program include basic breathing exercises that students or teachers can use. We take our breath with us everywhere. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s easy to access, and these are often skills that people talk about using when they’re in a stressful situation. But also, there’s a lot of stress just for everyone, whether it’s financial, or you know just with relationships. And we don’t solve any of those problems.
But what De-stress Monday tries to do is just give people the tools they need in order to make it a little bit better. One thing that’s been really great about working with the Monday Campaigns is that they are actively building the general De-stress Mondays site. And there’s a lot of crosstalk between that site and the teacher program. We gave teachers surveys at the beginning, before they started the program, and after they had already experienced the program, to ask them about their stress, their ways of coping, their sleep, and also symptoms of depression and anxiety. We also interviewed them after they’d had a chance to interact with the site for about nine weeks.
We actually did see significant improvements in teachers’ stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and sleep. We’re hoping that the approach of De-stress Monday, which is not OK I gotta go to a week long seminar, but it’s small, doable things that you can incorporate in your routine. So if we can get to those higher-level people, we think it will have a big effect on everyone else. So moving forward, we’re going to do another pilot. But this one we’re going to include a control group, meaning teachers who don’t receive the program. And this will really help us to see more specifically what the program impacts are.
It’s a stronger level of evidence, and we hope that it will help us to get future, larger-scale funding to see whether we can deliver this program in more schools with positive effects.

Dr. Tamar Mendelson from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Dr. Erica Sibinga from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have collaborated with the Monday Campaigns to pilot DeStress Monday at School, a program that brings mindfulness instruction to teachers and students in Baltimore Public Schools.

The Monday Campaigns is a movement based on the idea that Mondays provide moments when one can reflect on the previous week and cultivate a positive attitude for the week ahead. DeStress Monday at School is an initiative specifically tailored toward the classroom, bringing in activities, audio files, and videos for the school environment.

In an effort to support teachers and address unmet emotional and behavioral needs in the classroom, the program sends weekly mindfulness resources to teachers, who then implement mindfulness-based activities in their classroom throughout the week.

The teachers’ program includes five themes that teachers identified as important prior to the study: Starting the Day, Boosting Energy, Improving Focus, Calming the Mind, and Connecting. Students and teachers can all benefit from deep breathing, yoga, intention-setting, mindful listening, and a variety of other exercises included in the program.

Surveys before and after the 9-week pilot program indicated improvements in stress, anxiety symptoms, and sleep for teachers who participated in DeStress Monday at School. Moving forward, the study will continue with a control group, allowing researchers to better evaluate the effects of the program on teachers’ perceived stress, coping skills, sleep, depression, and anxiety symptoms.


As you watch, consider the following, post your response below, and reply to comments of other learners:

How else could the program managers and researchers have learned about the needs of their target population (the teachers)?

Provide some suggestions for alternative strategies for conducting a needs assessment for this project.

This article is from the free online

The Monday Campaigns: Lessons in Public Health Promotion

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now