HOMEWOOD Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a new school year, and right now several school districts in the area are focusing on the mental health of their students and teachers.

Superintendent of Homewood City Schools Dr. Justin Hefner said the work they put in to properly caring for the people in their schools helps them not only excel in the classroom but to also enjoy what they do.

He said this is especially true for teachers. Many across the nation are experiencing burnout and stepping away from the classroom.

“We want people to enjoy their work, but when they go home, we want them to really enjoy being home as well,” said Dr. Hefner. “And so, we put a lot of emphasis there and realize that because of the importance of our people, we have to take really good care of them, and we pride ourselves on that here in Homewood City Schools.”

Dr. Justin Hefner said they understand if teachers are not well, they are unable to do their job well.

This is why they offer something called ‘Homewood Strong’- an assistance program free to employees and their household family members.

Dr. Hefner said they put a lot of effort into providing employees with opportunities to have a healthy work life balance, ultimately allowing both staff and students to excel in the classroom.

“And we also have a physical wellness program where we have a wellness coordinator for the district who is constantly pushing us, all adults who work for the school system, to be physically well,” said Dr. Hefner. “Lots of wellness challenges, and a lot of fun.”

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks said they have a whole program that focuses specifically on student mental health called “Shelby Cares.”

Dr. Brooks said they partner with mental health providers outside of the school district for this.

If there is a student that may have a challenge, they make sure they have access to all available resources through that program.

This allows students to get any and all help they may need with a built-in support system.

“You know, certainly, we want to make sure that everybody’s involved in that process,” said Dr. Brooks. “The students the parents, the school counselor. So yeah, that program is continued to grow, and we’re excited about it.”