Secondary traumatic stress in school personnel

Cameo Borntrager, James C. Caringi, Richard van den Pol, Lindsay Crosby, Kelsey O'Connell, Ashley Trautman, Molly McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Although research has examined secondary traumatic stress (STS) among mental health workers, no studies have systematically addressed STS among public school personnel. Given the amount of time children spend in school (7-8 h per day) and high national estimates of youth trauma exposure, this line of inquiry is warranted. Participants included 229 school staff members across six schools in the northwestern USA. Results indicated that school staff reported very high levels of STS, despite also deriving satisfaction from doing their job well at levels that approximate national averages of job satisfaction. Their levels of job burnout are remarkably average. Although individuals working in mental health receive training in recognition of STS in self and colleagues, and are provided with STS referral, mitigation, and treatment opportunities on the job, no opportunities such as these are routinely provided for school personnel. Implications and recommendations for such programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-50
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in School Mental Health Promotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • School
  • Secondary traumatic stress
  • Trauma


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