The U.S. Department of Education released a new resource: Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students.

The resource, issued Oct. 19, highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. It includes real-world examples of how schools, communities and states are putting the recommendations into action.

State Education Agencies and local school districts can use the resources in the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program, as well as previous rounds of ESSER funds, to implement these recommendations and ensure students receive the support they need. Through ARP ESSER alone, state and local education leaders have $122 billion available to ensure the mental health, social, emotional and academic needs of students are met.

“Our efforts as educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science, and other core subjects to include helping students to build the social, emotional, and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and participate in learning and make the most of their potential and future opportunities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Amid the pandemic, we know that our students have experienced so much. We can’t unlock students’ potential unless we also address the needs they bring with them to the classroom each day. As educators, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are helping to provide students with a strong social and emotional foundation so that they also can excel academically.”

This latest resource is part of the Return to School Roadmap, which stresses the importance of supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health to create a strong foundation for students’ academic success. It is intended to supplement and build on the information in the prior CoVID-19 handbooks released by the U.S. Department of Education:

This resource follows World Mental Health Day, earlier this month, and the issuance of new guidance from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice on Supporting Students at Risk of Self-Harm in the Era of COVID-19.

View a related story in this week’s issue of School Board Notes.