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Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

One minute guide: Compassion fatigue

What are the signs?

  • Physical or emotional exhaustion (or both)
  • Reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy
  • Dreading taking care of someone and feeling guilty about it
  • Feeling irritable, angry, or anxious
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Isolating yourself
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Reduced sense of accomplishment or meaning in the work
  • Difficulties in making decisions
  • Possible impact on your personal life and relationships

Short term advice for school staff

Make self care a priority. Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. When you’re feeling healthy, you’ll be much more able to support children who need it the most.
Find positive ways to cope with stress when at home; take a walk, meditate, watch something funny, take a warm bath, call a friend. Spend time on a hobby or something you enjoy.

Longer term advice for schools

  • Develop stress management approaches across the whole school for example mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises
  • Team working is of utmost importance. When one member of staff is struggling, they may need to take ‘time out’ and another can then step in
  • Consider setting up a ‘buddy’ system so that staff have someone there who they feel comfortable to check in with on a regular basis
  • Seek support from professionals who can offer regular confidential, non-judgmental supervision and support
  • Set up a wellbeing display board with space for staff to contribute ideas. Make sure it’s updated regularly
  • Keep staff wellbeing and pastoral care as a high priority, with opportunities for discussion and downtime together

Further help, support and useful links: