Recovery to Reinvention: Supporting Students’ Mental Health and Wellbeing

This continues the Walton Family Foundation-sponsored series, designed in partnership with PIE Network and Bellwether Education Partners. Students will be returning to school amid a perfect storm of ongoing trauma: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic instability, racial unrest, and months of anxiety and isolation caused by school and community shutdowns. Surveys and polls consistently show that mental health is among parents’ top concerns about students’ experiences during this past year, in addition to academic learning loss. Even before the pandemic, federal data suggested nearly half of all U.S. children had been exposed to at least one traumatic event, and more than 20 percent had been exposed to several. Studies from across health and education fields have found that students who experience sustained traumatic stress, known as “adverse childhood experiences,” are more likely to have academic and behavioral problems in school and cognitive and emotional difficulties outside of it. This discussion will highlight SEL, trauma-informed care, and school climate best practices. Kickstarters for this discussion will include: Maya Martin Cadogan (PAVE, invited), Karen Niemi (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), Dr. Olga Acosta Price (George Washington University), and Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds (ExcelinEd).