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Science Shows How to Protect Kids’ Mental Health, but It’s Being Ignored

"Before the pandemic, by 2018, 79 percent of high schools identified safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, 96 percent had antiharassment policies and 77 percent had inclusivity professional development for staff. Many schools also had inclusive, student-led clubs. Recent CDC research found that having such policies and practices improved mental health not only for LGBTQ students but for all young people. Similar results from antiracism programs make schools less toxic for historically marginalized youth and improve the health and well-being of all students.

These approaches are not controversial. Methods to increase connectedness include classroom-management techniques that reinforce attentive, cooperative and collaborative behaviors, reduce peer victimization, and help youth understand how others feel and behave. Psychological prevention strategies can teach youth how to less frequently blame themselves for harsh experiences, help peers feel valued and included, and consider adaptive and healthy responses, even when confronted with aggression.

These programs require a commitment to the science of behavior and the deployment of innovative initiatives. And they need resources—to deploy these prevention approaches at scale and among populations most at need. Failure to address this mental health crisis will result in not only the distress of millions of U.S. youth today but a change in the productivity, success and wellness of U.S. citizens at large as this generation matures."


DEISELH&WUDL*. How's your child's school (if you're a parent) or your school (if you're an educator) doing in championing these essential interactive elements of education?

I'm a strong advocate for the need to understand, integrate, and implement these four approaches to teaching and caring for the whole child in order to keep children whole. I hope you are or are becoming one too.

*Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Social-Emotional Learning, Health & Wellness, and Universal Design for Learning



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