Opinion
Budget & Finance Letter to the Editor

Federal Funds Should Be Prioritized to Support Mental Health

March 07, 2023 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

EdWeek recently ran an opinion piece, “What Districts Need When Investing Their Funds” (Feb. 1, 2023). The authors identified multiple areas districts should invest in and noted at the end that social-emotional and mental health supports should be prioritized.

As a psychologist with more than 35 years in the field of child development and early-childhood education, I agree that social-emotional learning and mental health should be prioritized—and should be prioritized above all other supports.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the mental health of people of all ages. There are short- and long-term consequences for this increased mental health crisis facing children and the adults who care for and teach them. While adults are still susceptible to stress and anxiety, ideally, they have already learned how to manage challenging emotions. However, many children have not yet learned self-regulation and don’t have the tools to adequately deal with emotional challenges. The result: decreased academic performance and behavioral concerns.

Emotional and cognitive circuitry is interrelated. Positive emotional learning experiences strengthen neurological connections within the prefrontal cortex—the brain’s epicenter of executive functions, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. When the brain is overwhelmed with dysregulated emotion, it cannot learn. Children must be taught how to regulate their emotions. For this reason, mental health must be prioritized over academic performance.

A one-on-one approach, such as increasing counselors, while appropriate in some cases, will not address mental health for the masses. Teachers and children need to have social-emotional learning as a preventive intervention model woven into their daily activities. While investments in tools and programs to improve academic outcomes are important, mental health needs to be the number one priority.

Donna Housman
Psychologist
Boston, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2023 edition of Education Week as Federal Funds Should Be Prioritized to Support Mental Health

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance Some Districts Charge for School Bus Rides—If They Offer Transportation at All
Transportation charges are rarely scrutinized, but advocates say they're an equity issue.
4 min read
Group of children board schoolbus
E+
Budget & Finance Districts Struggle to Find the Least Harmful Cuts as Budgets Shrink
Districts are losing one-time federal funds and laboring to figure out how to prudently cut positions or even close schools.
9 min read
The direction of money, the question of money, the businessman stands at the crossroads with coins and ponders.
Z_Wei/iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance 3 Ways Districts Can Prepare for Financial Woes to Come
ESSER dollars are expiring soon, leaving districts to get creative with resources in future years.
4 min read
Hand putting together puzzle blocks with people icons.
iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance Districts Scramble to Comply With New Overtime Rule
Organizations push to delay new rule that requires overtime pay for more school employees.
2 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week