Districts Working to Provide Adequate Social-Emotional Support for Students

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found COVID-19 had a significant impact on addressing student behavioral and mental health challenges.

Kathleen Ethier, the director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, noted the positive efforts schools have made in addressing behavioral concerns after the return to classrooms.

“Schools have been diligent in addressing the impacts on students, focusing on both behavioral and learning outcomes,” Ethier acknowledged.

Since the reopening of schools post-pandemic, there has been a surge in interest in social-emotional learning to support students grappling with various challenges. Funding for mental health initiatives, both at federal and local levels, has further propelled this issue.

A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced the Creating Access to Resources in Education for Student Mental Health Act (CARE for Student Mental Health Act), aiming to support schools in hiring and retaining mental health professionals.

Kathleen Ethier emphasized the unprecedented attention being directed towards addressing the mental health crisis among youth through public health and educational efforts.

Schools can incorporate mental well-being into daily activities

While schools have shown promise in addressing mental health, evidence indicates continued support is needed for students, especially after the CDC’s findings of increased mental health challenges among teen girls and LGBTQ+ students.

Schools are encouraged to intervene to mitigate the negative impact of violence and trauma on youth, as recognized by the CDC.

“SEL skills play a crucial role in positive mental health outcomes, acting as a buffer against risks like substance use,” stated Brittney Williams from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

While schools have made efforts in promoting SEL skills, some struggle to balance emotional well-being with academic recovery, posing a challenge according to Ethier.

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