Some Tomato Soup for the TAY Provider’s Soul — Six Tips to Take Better Care of Ourselves

by Stars Training Academy   4 Comments

It has been noted that many mental health professionals and TAY providers often don’t practice what we preach. We coach and cajole young people to take better care of themselves, but may not follow our own advice. I contend that TAY providers need to approach their self-care in the same way that star athletes maintain their physical conditioning – it’s part of the job and part of performing well.
Along-side the progress and remarkable achievements of the young people we serve are horrendous and painful events and experiences. I still feel haunted by a bright young woman who committed suicide years ago. Other TAY providers I know have worked closely with young people who have been murdered or murdered others. Most TAY teams have witnessed the gut-wrenching, vicious cycle of former foster care youth who have children, only to see them placed in foster care. We may see outrageously high numbers of our young people sentenced to languish in jails and prisons for non-violent crimes.
So what do we do to keep hope and our spirits alive? Our belief and vision of better tomorrows are key to effective engagement with young people. Here are six of my tips to keep our batteries charged and hair on our heads.

  • SHARE EXPERIENCES -with colleagues, supervisors and mentors. Don’t isolate or try to “suck it up”.
  • GET PHYSICAL – exercise regularly – don’t get stuck endlessly sitting and talking with your young people. Walk with them, throw a Frisbee and play Wii. You’ll feel better and so will your clients.
  • TAKE THE LONG-VIEW – we are an impatient society who wants to see quick results. Keep in mind that the work you do well today often does not bear fruit until years later (and doesn’t show up in 6-month service plans). Keep it up!
  • HIRE PEER MENTORS – working along-side these living embodiments of hope and resiliency provides a continual reminder that recovery happens.
  • COLLECT and SHARE STORIES of recovery and of people overcoming hardships and barriers. Sometimes they’re from your own life experiences, or of friends and family, or of past clients, or from books and movies.
  • LAUGH OFTEN – Set a goal to increase your laughing from 1x per day to 5x per day (and decrease frowning). We are missing a key source of strength if we do not find the natural humor and capacity for joy in our young people and ourselves.

What do you do to keep your hope and spirits alive? Please share.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Meagher August 31, 2012 at 12:26 am

I just love to have a nice work out. I I love to get new work out clothes. It may sound funny.. I just bought a new pair of spin shoes and it made my class double the fun..


Cheryl Placide October 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Pray, Pray and pray! 🙂
Laughing at myself does help!


Tonya McCampbell October 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I’m with you, Cheryl. Pray and Pray and Pray! Then I sing to myself and do something that makes me smile or laugh. A merry heart really “does good like a medicine” for self-healing and rejuvenation.


Tyron February 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Really liked what you had to say in your post, Mental Health professionals and transition age youth (TAY) providers, thanks for the good read!
— Tyron


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