Brandon Broussard, who is working toward a master’s in social work at Western New Mexico University, describes himself as an educator by trade.
““I taught for 15 plus years and struggled because I was teaching but I was so much more an advocate for our students,” he said. “At some point, I realized I wanted to help in a different way.”
That way, it turns out is currently to formulate a new school-based mental health program model and to improve fatigue and trauma prevention strategies offered to teachers. Support through the WNMU Student Research and Professional Development fund allowed Broussard to devote his summer to defining and working toward having Teacher Trauma recognized by the mental health community. “Nothing exists on this topic, and I’d like teacher trauma to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” he said.
From Lafayette, Louisiana, Broussard researched “20 to 30 different universities” before starting toward a master’s degree. “A lot of them have specific guidelines on when you can do the field work. That wasn’t going to fit in my life,” he said, highlighting the openness WNMU has to field work possibilities. “The summer before last was my first semester at WNMU. I quickly realized I’ve been a social worker since day one of teaching.”
He partnered with Project-Fleur-de-lis, a New Orleans-based nonprofit that provides school-based trauma-focused intervention services, for the summer research project and will soon relocate in order to do his MSW fieldwork with them. The result of Broussard’s work so far is a Teacher CRISIS Guide that offers support and preparation for teachers before, during, and after a crisis.
Using evidence-based treatment from the NASP PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention Model, the document helps teachers understand their role in crisis response. “The project started as me revising some info Project-Fleur-de-lis has for when they go into school systems. But they had just been cherry picking content from this 400-page document that’s specifically for mental health professionals and not teachers,” he said, noting that now his guide will be a resource for more than 250 mental health professionals and the network of teachers in New Orleans schools.
Broussard said he thought of the guide and organized it like he would a lesson plan. “Because I’m an educator and know this is a huge void, taking on this project was validating. I was working with this LCSW who’d been with the nonprofit for six years. I said, ‘This is what I see as a teacher,’ and she said, ‘I never would’ve thought of that.’”
He said that while he’ll always be able to see this topic through an education lens, he’s learning to come at related situations from a social work angle.
With four semesters left in his MSW program, Broussard said each semester has a field placement component. “I just want to learn as much as possible, take as much knowledge as possible so I can appropriately use it and build up on it once I’m graduated,” he said. “One of my goals is to continue with my Doctor of Social Work. My focus will be to highlight teacher trauma. “The teachers are the first line of defense for trauma with our students,” he said, “and they’re not trained.”