Mental health

Coping With COVID-19: 5 Ways Leaders Can Alleviate the Anxiety of Students

A recent report shared that Americans are experiencing more restlessness, nightmares, and generally poorer levels of sleep during COVID-19. I’m certain this is also true for students. As educators, we have a responsibility to consider and plan to support the mental health of students during this time. If we ignore their mental health, we are neglecting one of the biggest issues in our country right now. As principals, we must be thoughtful, visionary, and focused on supporting mental health and wellness during this time. Without this, our students will begin to struggle and may start to withdraw, become depressed, or think suicidal thoughts. (more…)

Moving Counseling Online During COVID-19

If we revisit Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, we know that we can’t access Bloom’s taxonomy until we address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. During this time of considerable uncertainty, it is increasingly important to consider mental health and wellness as a need we must address before we can get to the higher-order thinking skills associated with great instruction and learning. To that end, our school system quickly made plans to take school counseling online during this challenging time. (more…)

Tending Our Garden: The Importance of Mental Health

It’s that time of the year again—spring has sprung despite the health crisis we are currently experiencing. I first wrote this blog post for the (now canceled) April virtual tour that was supposed to occur in our building. As I attempted to redesign the event—that is what we are doing as a nation educationally, redesigning instruction, redesigning engagement, and redesigning what we do best as educators—I realized the message of supporting mental health is as poignant now as it was before. And as I have been working to accommodate our new reality, my thoughts continue to return to my garden.

Note: This post includes a discussion of suicide.

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My Letter to Families: ‘We Will Get Through This’

Leaving school last Friday, I’m not sure that any of us knew what to expect. I know as I leave tonight, for the last time for a while, I’m feeling similar emotions. Tuesday was our last day with kids, Wednesday with staff. Our building will be shut down beginning this Friday afternoon. It’s surreal. (more…)

Experiencing the Loss of a Student or Teacher: Responding to Crisis

Over the past seven years, Beachwood High School in Beachwood, OH, has been severely impacted by the untimely deaths of eight individuals—seven students and one teacher. In all seven cases in which a student was lost, mental health played a significant role. (more…)

Four Ways to Support Student Well-Being

We seem to be at a place in time where achievement and growth scores continue to dominate the educational landscape, even though these metrics run the risk of overshadowing the students. Fortunately, there are examples of administrations, schools, and districts taking innovative steps to support students beyond academics. Here are four new ways schools and their leaders are supporting student well-being. (more…)

Helping Students Affected by Trauma During the Holidays

For most of us, thinking about the fall and winter months conjures up happy memories—hayrides, big family dinners, and presents galore. However, the holiday season can be difficult for our students affected by trauma. (more…)

From Trauma Aware to Trauma Responsive

Each day, millions of students arrive at school carrying the burdens of trauma. The statistics regarding childhood trauma in our country are staggering: data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health indicate that over half of U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) and nearly 30 percent have experienced two or more. ACEs such as abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, and exposure to violence have been linked to a range of negative outcomes relating to health, behavior, and life potential. (more…)

Canines in the Classroom: How Gem Transformed Our School

Guest post by Laurie Wade

When I first proposed introducing a therapy dog to my district in 2011, I was met with a lot of raised eyebrows and skepticism. There was the expected chorus of objections: What about kids who are afraid of dogs or don’t like them? What about allergies? What if the dog hurts someone? Like most problems, all of these had solutions, and once that reassurance took hold the possibilities came forward. Research has shown that therapy dogs in schools bring a host of physical and mental benefits for the community. (more…)

Responding After a Student Death by Suicide

Guest post by Richard Lieberman

As a school psychologist with 40 years of experience in school crisis response, I have collaborated with many principals in the aftermath of tragic events that have impacted their schools and communities. I have found their leadership under such challenging and pressured circumstances to be admirable. However, many administrators are uncertain about how to respond after a student dies by suicide. Community members may believe that talking about suicide will put the idea into the heads of our students, but the research indicates that talking about suicide and taking action are the keys to prevention. (more…)