Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

Leadership that prioritizes mental health plays a significant role in driving systemic improvement of teaching and learning. That’s because providing support for students’ mental health bolsters their engagement and intellectual development. Providing support for mental health also addresses the level of trauma seen in both students and teachers today.

In fact, education leaders already recognize the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). When they address social and emotional learning, they are, in fact, supporting students’ mental health. Putting SEL into the context of overall support for mental health deepens and broadens schools’ and districts’ existing engagement with SEL.

This module aligns with Ohio’s Leadership Framework in the following areas:

  • Area 1 Data and The Decision-Making Process
  • Area 2 Focused Goal Setting Process
  • Area 3 Instruction and Learning Process
  • Area 4 Community Engagement Process
  • Area 5 Resource Management Process
  • Area 6 Board Development and Governance Process

Discussion Questions

  1. What has been the experience of your district around the idea of “full-service schools”? Perhaps there are full-service schools in your district, but more likely there are not. Is this an option worth considering in your district? What could be done locally to develop the capacity to initiate one or more full-service schools?

  2. Schools can offer mental health services, but taking advantage of those services might be challenging for students and families. What are the barriers that might keep students and families from using mental health services? What district-based provisions can help break down these barriers?

  3. Some school practices introduce stressors that affect students’ mental health. What school practices have you observed that have this effect? How might those practices be changed to make them less stressful?


Introductory Activities

  1. Arrange a meeting between DLT members and the district’s school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to discuss their views on expanding school-based mental health services. Keep track of their suggestions and discuss them in a future DLT meeting.

  2. Arrange a meeting between DLT leaders and local mental health service providers. The purpose of the meeting is to get a fuller understanding of these practitioners’ views about (and recommendations for) school-based mental health services. At a subsequent DLT meeting, discuss what you learned from the meeting with local mental health service providers.

Advanced Activities

  1. Hold a focus-group style discussion in the DLT or BLT. Prepare by reading this short explanation. Overall, the point of the discussion is to surface differences of opinion (not to arrive at a consensus). Address these questions: (1) What do we know about the mental health challenges of our students and families? (2) Should the district do more to address such challenges; why or why not? (3) Does our current approach to discipline harm students’ mental health (why or why not)? (4) Are we doing enough to support pro-social behavior and students’ self-regulation (why or why not)? The focus-group facilitator should prepare a short report that summarizes differences of opinion among members of the team.

  2. Conduct a community mental health asset assessment. An asset-mapping resource for communities is provided by the Rural Information Health Information Hub. A method that collects data from both surveys and interviews is typical. Keep in mind that substantial preparation for asset-mapping is needed. The National Institutes of Mental Health provide a useful overview of asset mapping for mental health needs. Note that, in smaller districts, external help may be needed (e.g., help in designing the assessment, analyzing the data, and preparing a report). Possible helpers might come from regional entities (universities, ESCs, or SSTs). Or helpers might come from the wider community on a volunteer basis.

You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.

For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.