Student Well-Being

Mental Health Days, SEL Best Practices, and Naloxone on the Agenda at SXSW EDU

By Lauraine Langreo — March 01, 2023 2 min read
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The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 42 percent of high school students said they experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

That is a sobering finding that educators, researchers, and education companies will explore during the SXSW EDU conference, which kicks off on Monday, March 6, in Austin.

Some of the sessions at this year’s conference will focus on what educators’ role is in improving student mental health, how to end the opioid crisis, and social-emotional learning best practices, among other student well-being issues.

Here are five Education Week stories that should help you prepare to address these challenges now and in the years ahead, all of which will be explored during the conference:

1. More Schools Are Offering Student Mental Health Days. Here’s What You Need to Know

More schools are giving students an excused absence from classes to look after their mental well-being. It’s easy to see why some states have embraced the policy: it’s a relatively low-resource way to support kids’ mental well-being. It also reduces stigma around seeking help. But experts also caution that mental health days do come with some potential pitfalls and dangers.

2. Students Have Ideas to Address Mental Health Challenges. They Want to Be Heard

School and district administrators often cite students’ well-being as a major concern as they strive for normalcy after the pandemic. But students aren’t always asked for their ideas on how to confront the challenges. And they have a lot of ideas, such as mental health days for students and faculty, student-led professional development for teachers, and providing on-campus quiet rooms and private spaces for students.

3. Building an Effective SEL Program: Lessons From 3 Districts

Many school districts have invested heavily in social-emotional learning. But how can schools ensure that those investments are sustainable and lead to results? Education Week spoke with three districts that have been implementing social-emotional learning districtwide for at least a decade to learn what has worked, what hasn’t, and what are the key elements to success. Among them: getting input from students, figuring out how to measure the seemingly unmeasurable, and focusing on adult SEL.

4. Telemedicine Could Help Keep Kids in Class

Schools’ use of telehealth services increased during the pandemic, and emerging research suggests it could help reduce chronic absenteeism. Researchers tracked student absenteeism in three rural school districts in North Carolina where school-based telehealth clinics were rolled out. After telemedicine was implemented, the researchers found that students in grades 3-8 who had access to telemedicine at school were 29 percent less likely to become chronically absent than before the schools implemented telehealth.

5. Districts Are Stocking Up on Naloxone But Often Ignoring Drug Prevention

Forty percent of school and district leaders nationwide said their schools stock the opioid-reversing drug naloxone to counter dangerous drug overdoses, according to an EdWeek Research Center Survey. But districts have a hard time adopting school-based drug prevention and education programs. Experts say it is easier to access and use naloxone than it is to provide a comprehensive drug prevention program.

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