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Mental Health

Mental Health and Well-being

NAESP knows that a principal’s first responsibility is to foster an orderly, warm, and inviting environment where students come to school confident, ready, and eager to learn. Principals often rely on community-school partnerships to create and sustain a safe and healthy environment, keep schools safe, and prevent gun or related violence. We must do more to provide schools with the necessary resources to sustain evidence-based programs designed to positively impact school violence, positive behavior supports, and common mental health issues.

New resources are available to help principals facilitate this training, developed by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students. The Coalition, of which NAESP is a founding member, is a unique collaboration of the leading professional organizations representing school leaders, classroom educators, student support personnel, and other school professionals. In collaboration with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and with generous support from the New York Life Foundation, the coalition has developed a practitioner-oriented website—grievingstudents.org—that can help educators address these issues and train their school communities.

Here are additional resources designed to help the nation’s schools raise awareness of mental health issues that impact our children and youth.

  • Grief Support Is On the Way: Training and support can reduce barriers to educators reaching out to grieving students. This Principal magazine article explains misconceptions about grief and barriers to support, as well as strategies for educator training and leveraging social media.
  • Coping With Loss: Approximately 5 percent of children experience the death of a parent and 90 percent experience the death of a family member or close friend by the time they finish high school. This Principal magazine article explains the role of schools and principals in helping students in thier greatest time of need.
  • A Death in the Family: In this Principal magazine article, a principal reflects on her school community's reaction to the death of a beloved teacher.

We invite all elementary and middle-level principals to be a part of the conversation by engaging teachers, students, parents, and every member of the school community in meaningful conversations. Encouraging every member of your school community to come together to raise mental health awareness and ensure that student well-being is a top priority. Here are a few examples of how you can contribute to this campaign:

  • Create a schoolwide motto that reinforces a positive school culture and attitudes about mental health.
  • Hold a school assembly to raise awareness of mental health issues and reinforce tolerance, acceptance, diversity and strong character.
  • Make a daily announcement in your school that highlights the behaviors, actions, and attitudes that students must know and learn to be tolerant of others, and promote a positive culture of safety and well-being.
  • Hold a joint presentation for parents and the community featuring your school’s psychologist, behavioral health, or other specialist that discusses the importance of mental health or social, emotional, and physical development. If you don’t have access to a school-based mental health professional, invite a local provider or coordinate with the district.
  • Lead a pledge drive by asking every teacher, student, and member of your school’s learning community to sign a pledge to contribute to a respectful culture, devoid of bullying and harassment. Line your school’s hallways with the signatures and the pledge.
  • Hold “informational sessions” or town-hall style events with parents and community stakeholders to discuss the importance of mental health, well-being, and social and emotional development.
  • Host a joint event with a local community service provider to draw attention to the school-community partnership and services available for children and youth.