Issue #5 Notebook – November 1, 2018


Starling: The First Step to Mental Wellness

Teaching is a challenging career and everyone has moments when they need extra support. As teachers we often put so much energy into taking care of others but we fail to take care of ourselves. But you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. You should be your number one concern so that you can be in the best of health. For some, this comes through personal activities that bring joy or pursuing a healthy lifestyle with family and friends. For many of us, however, taking care of yourself is easier said than done.  Today’s classroom is more challenging than ever and life itself has a complexity that was not there in the past. There is no shame in seeking support in order to find the balance in life that comes with mental wellness.

One such support is the BCTF Starling Program. This program has been developed by Dr. Andrew Miki in conjunction with BC teachers. Indeed, Dr. Miki will be our keynote speaker at the NVTA Pro D Conference in February. His Starling Program is an online mental health and wellness tool that is designed specifically for teachers. It helps you assess, monitor, and improve your mental fitness in the privacy of your home. As a member of BC Teachers’ Federation, it is available to you and your family members to use anywhere and anytime you want, for free. Starling is and will always be 100 percent confidential. I have used the Starling online program and have been impressed with its practical simplicity and ability to be tailor made for each user.

Twenty percent of teachers will experience some type of mental health issue. Over two-thirds of them will not seek help due to stigma and shame.

Starling helps teachers learn about stress, mental fitness exercises, and how to break unhealthy patterns that may lead to anxiety and depression. Starling provides:

  • Online training tools and education videos based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Case study videos of a teacher named Virginia
  • Evidence based training and tools that are available anytime and anywhere in the world
  • An assessment of symptoms and functioning that tracks progress over time
  • A five-module preventative mental health program
  • A rules engine to provide unique recommendations for each user
  • Early intervention programs for anxiety and/or depression

Additional coverage is provided for family members.

Members can access Starling by signing up at All you need is your six-digit BCTF member identification number that you use to sign into the BCTF portal. If you are unsure of your BCTF ID, you can email portal@bctf.caor call to speak to a BCTF staffperson (604-871-2119 or 1-800-663-9163, local 2119).

All personal information shared with Starling is kept completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone including the BCTF or any school district.