Educators and caregivers can have tremendous influence on the mental health of children and youth. We’ve handpicked some research-based resources that provide more mental health information as well as tips shown to boost positive outcomes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the US, roughly one in five children experience a mental disorder (such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], anxiety, or depression).¹ Decades of research findings show that strong social-emotional skills can have positive effects on many outcomes, including mental health.² However, social-emotional learning (SEL) is not used to diagnose or treat psychological conditions, such as ADHD or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At Committee for Children, we’ve developed the Second Step® family of SEL programs and other tools and resources that foster the safety and well-being of children and youth. SEL provides a strong foundation for building resilience and adaptability, which can help children cope with stressors and control anxiety.³ When children learn how to identify emotions, manage their reactions, make responsible choices, and connect with others empathetically, they may feel more connected to school, show more positive social behaviors, and have lower levels of emotional distress.⁴
The following free resources for educators, families, and advocates are useful for learning more about what’s needed to create positive environments that support mental health so that every child can thrive.
Social-Emotional Learning and Mental Health: Flipping the Script on Student Supports: Award-winning educator and nationally known speaker R. Keeth Matheny shares strategies for supporting student mental health using SEL within a multitiered system of support.
Safe, Supported, and Ready to Learn: Learn how adverse childhood experiences can cause toxic stress, which can result in trauma that has lasting negative effects on children’s development.
Trauma-Sensitive Practices: Feeling Safe and Supported While Learning at Home: While the COVID-19 pandemic may be causing distress for all students, it can particularly affect students who have experienced trauma. This webinar addresses how teachers and schools can integrate trauma-sensitive practices into their online teaching plan and virtual interactions.
Social-Emotional Learning and Preventing Youth Suicide: Youth suicide is one of the top two causes of premature death of youth between ages 10 and 19.⁵ This literature review explores how policies and SEL-based programs are making a difference and summarizes how five interventions lead to key outcomes.
Second Step® Family of Programs: Free Classroom Activities: Our holistic approach to building supportive learning communities through SEL is offered on a subscription basis to districts and schools, but we also regularly share a variety of free resources for educators and families, such as community-building activities.
The Imagine Neighborhood™: This award-winning podcast helps families grow their social-emotional skills in a fun, fanciful storytelling format.
Purrble®: This interactive plush toy is designed to help children regulate their emotions by teaching them how to calm Purrble, who has a rapid “heartbeat” that calms down into a purr when the toy is held and pet.
From tracking bills to organizing coalitions to researching SEL issues and impact, we help people stay informed and inspired to take action. Want to make a difference? Check out these one-pagers related to the intersection of SEL and mental health:
- SEL Can Promote Mental Wellness: Essential in Times of Crisis
- Trauma-Informed Practices and Social-Emotional Learning
- Mental Health and Social-Emotional Learning Supports
If you know a child struggling with mental health issues, please reach out for help. A few resources that provide initial support include:
- National Hopeline Network: 800-442-HOPE (4673)
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- MentalHealth.gov: 877-726-4727
¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Mental health surveillance among children–United States, 2005-2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 62(2), 1–35. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6202a1.htm
² Jones, S. M., & Kahn, J. (2017). The evidence base for how we learn: Supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development. The Aspen Institute. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/SEAD-Research-Brief-9.12_updated-web.pdf
³ Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x
⁴ Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x
⁵ Curtin, S.C., & Heron, M. (2019). Death rates due to suicide and homicide among persons aged 10–24: United States, 2000–2017 (NCHS Data Brief No. 352). National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db352.htm