NHSA Launches Initiative to Support Mental Health for Head Start Workforce

29 June 2022 | Wednesday | News

The National Head Start Association (NHSA), in partnership with Ayogo Health, is proud to announce the launch of Starling Minds Mental Fitness, a digital mental health program that delivers proactive, comprehensive mental health support to early childhood educators, staff, and their families.
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

Starling Minds is a leading digital mental health platform that delivers confidential, unlimited, and personalized training and support to help alleviate stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression symptoms. The program adapts support and training to each educator's unique personality and learning style while integrating profession-specific content, stories, tools, and peer community forums into their experience.

"Head Start staff face a unique set of difficult and challenging stressors," said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. "With Starling's innovative technology and deep understanding of educators, we hope this program will deliver the support and training to the Head Start people so they can care for themselves and their families, and in turn, provide the stabilizing services and care to communities across the country."

Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the Starling Mental Fitness program offers a wide range of tools and features, including an assessment, checkups, guided module sessions, short exercises, live training sessions, educational videos, and a peer community—all aimed to help educators identify negative thoughts, patterns, and behaviors and practical tools and strategies to better manage them.

"NHSA is an inspirational example of making mental health an organizational priority," said Ayogo's Chief Executive Officer Michael Fergusson. "The people who power Head Start play a crucial role, one that has never been more important nor more challenging. Supporting and protecting the mental health of our educators and their families is essential if we want our children to have the greatest opportunity to succeed in school and life."

"Due to the demands of their profession, many early childhood educators tend to prioritize the needs of others over their own wellbeing. We have built our program to make self care easy, practical, and empowering for them to work on their mental health," said Starling Minds' Chief Executive Officer Peter Oxley. "We couldn't be more excited to make Starling Mental Fitness available to over 270,000 Head Start staff members and their families."

"This partnership represents a significant change in NHSA's delivery of member services to the Head Start community, as this is a direct, tangible service designed to meet the needs of programs, their staff, and the family members of their staff at this volatile moment. NHSA is thrilled to grow our member resources in this new way," said Vinci. "Educators are at the heart of our communities, and helping them proactively manage their mental health is crucial to the important work we do."

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