Supporting students’ mental health is critical to ensuring that they can learn and thrive. For many young people, the isolation, uncertainty, and trauma of the past year have bred anxiety and depression, with potentially long-lasting effects on their success in school and beyond. Schools must respond to this need by providing thoughtful and effective mental health supports. Offering timely interventions is only one part of the solution, though—investing in a range of isolated initiatives won’t lead to schoolwide structures that address student mental health in meaningful, consistent ways. Instead, schools should seek to build comprehensive mental health systems that allow them to support the wellbeing of all students, now and in the future.
The Rennie Center, the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium, and BRYT (Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition) have teamed up with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on a new initiative, Thriving Minds. Through a series of learning opportunities, educators will receive guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of their students.
The foundation for these learning opportunities will be a series of professional development workshops on the fundamental components of a comprehensive school mental health system—such as data, interventions, and infrastructure—all presented with a racial equity lens. School teams wishing to go deeper will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing learning cohorts with peers engaged in similar work. And for teams with a plan to advance toward a comprehensive school mental health system, we will offer mini-grants to support implementation and shared learning.
Ongoing Training Series
Thriving Minds is offering a set of training sessions and workshops in May and June to introduce school and district staff to the essentials of a comprehensive school mental health system and allow educators to reflect on (and improve) their own practice. Each week of this four-week series will focus on a foundational component of building a mental health system. We will host two sessions per week:
Tuesdays: An interactive training that introduces participants to key terms and concepts, strengthens their understanding of how to implement effective practices, and offers a range of strategies that can be applied in schools and classrooms.
Thursdays: An engaging, practitioner-driven workshop that allows participants to dig deeper into specific problems of practice and gain insights into their own challenges and areas for improvement. These workshops will build on the content covered in Tuesday’s sessions, and it is recommended that participants either attend the Tuesday training or bring a baseline understanding of the topic to be discussed.
DEVELOPING A SHARED COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING RACIAL EQUITY IN SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH
Tuesday, June 8 | 2:30 - 4:00 PM
(A panel discussion featuring experts in the field)
Day-to-day, mental health—already a growing concern for school prior to the pandemic—has moved to the center of national discourse. And for good reason, as educators, students, and families are describing unrelenting pressure which their existing coping skills are, increasingly, failing to contain. As schools devote increased time and attention to building comprehensive mental health systems, it is critical that this work centers and promotes racial equity. Participants in this session will hear from a wide variety of stakeholders about how they have infused a commitment to racial equity in their efforts to address rising mental health needs of the school community.
Thursday, June 10 | 3:00 - 4:00 PM
(A discussion-based workshop allowing participants to go deeper into the topic)
In this workshop, participants will review key principles and strategies for developing a shared commitment to racial equity in school mental health. In consultation with leaders in the field, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your practice and workshop various plans and ideas that can be implemented within your sphere of influence. Ultimately, you should walk away with new strategies for embedding racial equity at the heart of school mental health.
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