Being a professional within a school community can come with many challenges. However, as a UFT member, you don’t have to face life’s challenges alone, including personal challenges such as the death of a loved one or being the caregiver for someone affected by serious health issues. Because our professional lives are intertwined with our personal lives, it is essential to have support when facing hardship.
Belonging to a support group can significantly ease your burden. Irvin Yalom, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University and a pioneer of group work, describes the following benefits of belonging to a support group:
- Universality — knowing that you are not alone. You can connect with your peers, who may be experiencing some of the same things you are, in a safe and confidential space.
- Catharsis — it helps to share your personal experiences. Being around others who are in a similar situation can bring hope. School cultures are unlike other professional environments and having people in a support group who understand what you’re talking about can be validating.
- Forging connections — while you might not feel comfortable sharing within your school community, support groups provide confidential connections around a life situation.
- Guidance — providing help in navigating specific life circumstances. You might have ideas that others in the group can benefit from, and vice versa.
- Altruism — helping and supporting others can build a stronger sense of self.
Here are some support groups that the UFT offers:
- Grief and loss support group: A short-term group for members who have lost a significant person in their lives. This group provides support in managing grief and adjusting to the loss.
- Caregiver support groups: A short-term group that provides members who are caregivers with tips and strategies, including how to deal with caregiver burnout.
Know that your union is here to support you through the life issues that come your way. Future topics for support groups will include LGBTQ support and help for families coping with addiction and mental illness. If you have suggestions for a group you’d like the union to offer, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.