Perfectionist teacher learns to set boundaries
Connect with Karla offers toll-free road to better mental health
Kristen Reckelhoff’s route to better mental health has had its share of roadblocks.
The Stratton Elementary kindergarten/EL teacher was taking anxiety medication when her doctor suggested adding therapy for better results. Kristen balked. She already was busy with work and family, but another reason loomed larger.
“Cost was a huge factor,” Kristen admitted.
But then she remembered hearing that MNPS offers free therapy through Synchronous Health’s Connect with Karla®️ program. So Kristen signed up to get help for her longstanding anxiety.
As a bonus, weekly online sessions helped her recognize that two of her children were developing issues similar to hers. That awareness meant she was able to get them help at an earlier stage.
“It’s been life-changing for the whole family,” Kristen says.
Her therapist was a good fit.
“She made it easy to talk to her, but she didn’t let me off the hook,” Kristen says.
Kristen learned how her perfectionist streak adds to her anxiety, what triggers it and how to cope.
“I’ve mellowed out,” she says. “I feel like I can take more in stride.”
The Connect with Karla app includes a color wheel that helps participants quickly assess and track their moods and feelings. The app also allows them to schedule and send messages to their therapists.
For Kristen, the program was a godsend during the early part of the pandemic, especially as policymakers went back and forth on virtual teaching and other health-related issues.
Her therapist helped her see the need for self-care and the importance of acknowledging her feelings rather than suppressing them.
“She’s just so calm,” Kristen says.
Now Kristen is less likely to overextend herself and allow others to treat her like a doormat. And she’s reaping other benefits.
“My work and home balance has definitely evened out,” she says. “I articulate better. I set up boundaries and give myself permission to stick to them.”
Kristen is grateful MNPS offers this valuable support to teachers.
“We felt we [teachers] were at the center of this idea,” she says. As a result, the 17-year teaching veteran says the program has instilled in her a strong sense of loyalty.
“The fact that Metro provides this for us is amazing,” she says. “I literally go around to my co-workers and say, ‘Have you tried this?’ I’ve referred four or five people.”
Connect with Karla is available to employees, dependents and retirees enrolled in the Certificated Employee Health Plan.