Back to School Resources
The 2021-2022 school year will be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. Following the confusion and uncertainty of in-person versus virtual classes and the anticipated lapses in learning, teachers, parents and students are coming into this new year with unprecedented levels of anxiety and worry. Those fears go beyond learning and academics. Concerns about health and safety are at the forefront of most people’s minds. During the pandemic, our collective attention has been drawn to the importance of mental health, wellness and connectedness. When we talk about health and safety, we must include mental health and psychological safety.
Students want to talk about their mental health, social connections and experiences during the past 18 months but sometimes those conversations are difficult to start. As a featured resource, we have created Mental Health Conversation Starters that can be used by school staff, parents and caregivers alike to open up a dialogue to foster better mental health and wellness. Additional back-to-school resources are found below including information on trauma-informed practices, wellness tools and activities as well as curriculum development materials.
Mental Health Conversation Starters
According to a 4-H survey, roughly 80% of teens want more open, honest and safe conversations about mental health. One way to reduce the stigma associated with mental health struggles is by engaging in appropriate and compassionate conversation. Many adults, however, worry about what to say, how to say it and ways to support our students.
Mental Health Conversation Starters contains examples of ways to begin a conversation with someone that you’re concerned about. These can be helpful for school staff, parents or caregivers for use with children of any age.
Explore Mental Health Topics A to Z.
Concerned about a child’s behavior? Wondering how you can help a student? Unsure of where to go for additional support? Check out our newly revised and expanded “A to Z Topic Guide” for tips, strategies and resources addressing a wide variety of mental health and wellness topics.
Utilize Trauma-Informed Resources.
One of the most impactful ways schools can address the mental health impacts of the pandemic is to implement or expand upon trauma-informed practices at the school and district-wide level. Research indicates that children who experience Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) are more likely to have negative health outcomes in later life. Additionally, children whose mental health challenges are unmet are at higher risk for self-harm, suicide and serious mental illness in adulthood.
Addressing the impacts of trauma not only helps our children’s future, but the health and wellness of entire communities.
- Trauma Responsive Understanding Self-Assessment Tool for Schools
- The Burke Foundation supports children and caregivers to help prevent, protect against, and heal from the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
- TED Talk on “How childhood trauma affects health across the lifespan”
- The Ezra Klien Show podcast: “This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma”
- Introduction to Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training
Read Current Issue of Healthy Young Minds.
Take a Training. We offer self-paced, live, and recorded sessions.
To help schools prepare for the coming year, we are offering a variety of professional learning opportunities, covering topics such as mental health and wellness, trauma-informed schools, supporting staff wellness, and strategies to promote youth mental health. Contact us to discuss how we can best meet your training needs.
Back to School 2021: Video Series for New Yorkers from the Office of Mental Health
The Office of Mental Health has released a series of videos to address concerns from students and families about going back to school while still facing the challenges of COVID-19. Please watch, share and check out the list of resources compiled in the video descriptions to support the mental wellness of children and families across NY. FIND HERE
Visit our Virtual Wellness Room.
Need a break? Looking for ideas for self-care? Visit our Virtual Wellness Room for youth and adults.
Discover Tools and Activities to Support Mental Health.
Find tools and activities to support the mental health of students, families, and staff. While some factors that create mental health problems cannot easily be changed or eliminated, we can maintain mental health and wellness by building our “toolbox” of wellness strategies. Our staff has found or created some fun ideas and activities.
In addition, stress sometimes comes from worry about things outside of our control and our inability to focus on the “moment”. Apps are a great tool for practicing mindfulness and to become more self-aware of our emotions and accompanying response. Incorporate the use of apps into daily routine or classroom assignments to help students focus on the present moment and manage stress.
Engage Families with Mental Health Education Trainings and Resources.
We have compiled family and caregiver mental health resources that can be easily shared with your community via social media, emails or through a link on your website. Resources include our 30-minute psychoeducational webinars for families and caregivers which include: understanding mental health and wellness, coping with a crisis, understanding trauma, and incorporating mindfulness practices in the home. Visit the links below for more information.
Family Education Webinar Series
Supporting Mental Health at Home
Additional Resources for Families and Caregivers
Share NYS Community Resources.
Looking for community resources? We have what you need! Many families are needing support now more than ever. We’ve compiled a list of searchable databases to help you locate resources more easily.
Community Based Organizations – searchable by county
NYS Multiple Systems Navigator – for health, education, human service, and disability information.