The term back to school takes on an entirely new meaning this year, and with it comes additional challenges and stressors for our youth. In addition to re-engaging on the usual tasks and roles that schools have typically served, there will need to be an even more vigilant effort paid to youth mental wellness.
The San Diego County Office of Education’s Student Wellness and School Culture Department has developed a list of tips to help educators in supporting student mental health and well-being as we start the year. PDF format
Show Students You Care
Building strong relationships build connectivity and healing. When students know you care about them, they are more likely to be engaged in learning. Schools can institute strategies to ensure every student has at least one caring adult in their life
Conduct Frequent Check-Ins
Prioritizing check-ins with students is a great way to keep a pulse on how students are doing and build relationships. It can be a virtual check-in or gentle eye contact, a Post-it note, a personalized signal, or hosting morning meetings.
Establish Daily Rhythms
Schools can be intentional in creating daily rhythms, routines, and schedules that are predictable and cultivate a sense of safety. When students know what to expect it will alleviate their stress.
Normalize Mental Health
Encourage open communication. Remind students its ok to not be ok and ask for help. Share information and resources such as the Teen Guide to Mental Health & Wellness. Create spaces that prioritize well-being such as calming rooms
Focus on Staff Well-Being
Put in place the structures, practices, and time for protecting mental health among staff and leadership. Establish clear social support systems such as “tap-in/tap-out.” Consistently ask staff what they need to be well.
Prioritize Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Support students by teaching them ways to effectively manage and reduce stress. Engage in CASEL's 3-signature practices, welcoming and inclusive activities, engaging strategies, providing brain breaks and optimistic closures.
Modeling healthy behavior is a powerful teaching tool. A well-regulated adult can help a student regulate. Starting and ending the day in a regulated state by using the same SEL skills we teach students is co-regulation.
Recent data shows students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Consider allowing them to turn in assignments late, retake a test, or take breaks throughout the day and give everyone some grace.