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Supporting Students’ Well-Being Through Invention Education

While much has been written about the detrimental academic effects of COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions, educators and policymakers alike have made it clear that the importance of mental health and social-emotional learning (SEL) must not be ignored.

In a recently published white paper, “Integrating Effective Social-Emotional Learning In Your School District,” we explore key findings from a comprehensive U.S. Department of Education report, “Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health,” providing actionable guidance for educators to support their students’ mental health.

We invite you to read an excerpt of this white paper below:


An Integrated Approach to Mental Health and SEL

Intended to supplement the DOE’s COVID-19 resources for schools, students and families, this report provides readers with helpful information and research-backed findings to improve students’ mental and emotional well-being.

As part of these findings, the DOE identified seven distinct challenges to providing school or program-based mental health support for students, along with corresponding recommendations:

Challenge: Rising Mental Health Needs and Disparities Among Children and Student Groups
Solution: Prioritize Wellness for Each and Every Child, Student, Educator and Provider

Challenge: Perceived Stigma is a Barrier to Access
Solution: Enhance Mental Health Literacy and Reduce Stigma and Other Barriers to Access

Challenge: Ineffective Implementation of Practices
Solution: Implement Continuum of Evidence-Based Prevention Practices

Challenge: Fragmented Delivery System
Solution: Establish an Integrated Framework of Educational, Social, Emotional and Behavioral-Health Support for All

Challenge: Policy and Funding Gaps
Solution: Leverage Policy and Funding

Challenge: Gaps in Professional Development and Support
Solution: Enhance Workforce Capacity

Challenge: Lack of Access to Usable Data to Guide Implementation Decisions
Solution: Use Data for Decision Making to Promote Equitable Implementation and Outcomes

While administrators and educators will benefit from reading the entirety of the DOE report, we found challenge No. 4 (Fragmented Delivery Systems) and its solution (Establish an Integrated Framework of Educational, Social, Emotional and Behavioral-Health Support for All) particularly insightful. Citing research published by Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor, co-directors of the School Mental Health Project at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the DOE explains that often, the SEL and mental health support provided by teachers, counselors, school psychologists and social workers is siloed, and these professionals tend to “work in relative isolation from one another.”

For younger students especially, the DOE found that additional complexity and risks exist due to variations in available resources, as well as mixed delivery settings including home-, family- and center-based child care and school settings. Because our current systems focus on individual-level needs, sometimes community support mechanisms are left out of the equation, and schools struggle to “establish a comprehensive system of mental health support.”

When possible, the DOE recommends schools implement a more integrated mental health support strategy that removes existing barriers among stakeholders, and instead focuses on collaboration. To enhance the effectiveness of this strategy, the DOE notes that educators have a responsibility to create learning and social environments that are safe and supportive.

“Educators foster safe and supportive environments by maximizing child and student connections, arranging engaging and successful learning, and being positively constructive in responding to the needs of children and students,” the report said.

Alissa Alteri, a first-grade teacher at Leverett Elementary School in Leverett, Massachusetts, agrees with this assessment. In an article published by Edutopia, she wrote about how she has worked hard to make her classroom a happy place for her students.

“I ask myself the following questions: What are my students’ favorite activities? What draws the most engagement in the classroom? What can I do to make these occurrences more frequent?” she said.


Read the Entire White Paper Today!

Interested in reading this white paper in its entirety? We invite you to visit our website!

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