The California Department of Education recently released a guidebook for reopening schools. I was particularly drawn to pages 34-36 on “Mental Health and The Well-being of All”. This guide book is easy to read and navigate and should be a good reference tool for reopening.
My friend and colleague sent the SHAPE system website to me and I was impressed with all the features it has to offer. While I have only scraped the surface of the site it offers assessments to help students as well as identify ways to improve your school or district Mental Health system via a report (sample report). Here is the website: here.
The School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System is a public-access, web-based platform that offers schools, districts, and states a workspace and targeted resources to support school mental health quality improvement. SHAPE was developed by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH), in partnership with the field, to increase the quality and sustainability of comprehensive school mental health systems. SHAPE houses the National School Mental Health Census and the School Mental Health Quality Assessment (SMH-QA). These measures are designed for team completion at the school or district level to document the school mental health system components, assess the comprehensiveness of a SMH system, prioritize quality improvement efforts, and track improvement over time.
The SHAPE System is hosted by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The NCSMH is committed to enhancing understanding and supporting the implementation of comprehensive school mental health policies and programs that are innovative, effective, and culturally and linguistically competent across the developmental spectrum (from preschool through post-secondary), and three tiers of mental health programming (promotion, prevention, intervention).
The mission of the NCSMH is to strengthen policies and programs in school mental health to improve learning and promote success for America’s youth.
From its inception in 1995, the Center’s leadership and interdisciplinary staff have promoted the importance of providing mental health services to children, adolescents, and families directly in schools and communities.
This post is to showcase a few apps that could really support parents and educators on a variety of topics.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) developed these three apps.
KnowBullying provides resources and guidance for parents, caregivers, and educators on ways to prevent bullying and build resilience in children. The app features conversation starters, warning signs of bullying behavior, and helpful resources for educators.
Suicide Safe is a new suicide prevention app for mobile devices (optimized for tablets) that helps health care providers assess suicide risk and determine appropriate next steps for at-risk patients. The app features conversation starters, interactive sample case studies, and real-time access to behavioral health treatment facilities.
Stop, Breathe & Think It provides dozens of guided meditations for all types of purposes. The app even recommends meditations based on how you feel mentally, physically and emotionally. It also rewards you with stickers as you meditate more and more. Another Stop, Breath & Think for Kids is also available.
Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management.
Insight Timer Everyone talks about how great meditation is for your mental health but if it still feels too daunting, Insight Timer is a great place to start. The app meets you where you are, whether it’s your first time, or you’re a pro. Plus, you can connect with plenty of other users across the world with an activity feed (though of course, meditation isn’t a competition).
Users can share problems, feelings, or thoughts with the community, and get feedback from others. How does this help? The idea is based on a form of a well-established cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique called “reappraisal,” which is a way to help reframe negative thoughts. For example, you can share an experience like having a bad day at work, or a fight with your S.O., and the community might offer alternative readings of that situation to help you not jump to negative conclusions. (Like you’re going to get fired or you and your partner are breaking up.)
The best news of all: A 2015 study of the original website found that this approach significantly improved participants depression symptoms after just 25 minutes per week for three weeks.
Happify The main goal of this app is to just “feel happier,” and the program gives you plenty of options for working toward that goal. You’ll get to choose a path of activities that reflects what that really means for you.
You’ll start by taking a test to see where you’re at and how you tend to approach tough, stressful spots in your life. Then the app will suggest a path based on your answers. To move along the path, you’ll complete gratitude exercises, do a little meditation, and learn a lot about yourself along the way.
Apps at a cost
Journal Your Emotions with Ease Track your mood with “my story” as often as you want with just a couple of taps. We’ll track your emotional state for you so you can look back and learn about what might be blocking you from living your best life.
There has been a lot of recent buzz around the idea of the “Growth Mindset” from Carol S. Dweck. A piece of the “Growth Mindset” is developing in inner monologue of “I can”. Which ends up being how to tame the invading negative thoughts. This post is dedicated to developing the “I can” in school-age kids.
Five Key Points
In What Students Say to Themselves: Internal Dialogue and School Success (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2000), William Watson Purkey suggests the following five points to keep in mind as you try to shape students’ self-talk:
- What significant people think about students and how they act toward students influences how students define themselves.
- How students define themselves in their internal dialogue influences their academic success and failure.
- Everything the school does and the way things are done influences what students say to themselves.
- Altering how students define themselves involves altering the total school environment.
- The task of the school is to structure experiences that reduce crippling self-talk while inviting students to define themselves in essentially positive and realistic ways. (p. 77)
Stop, and breathe, I can do this
This will pass
I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this
I have done this before, and I can do it again
This feels bad, it’s a normal body reaction – it will pass
This feels bad, and feelings are very often wrong
These are just feelings, they will go away
This won’t last forever
Short-term pain for long-term gain
I can feel bad and still choose to take a new and healthy direction
I don’t need to rush, I can take things slowly
I have survived before, I will survive now
I feel this way because of my past experiences, but I am safe right now
It’s okay to feel this way, it’s a normal reaction
Right now, I am not in danger. Right now, I’m safe
My mind is not always my friend
Thoughts are just thoughts – they’re not necessarily true or factual
This is difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s only temporary
I can use my coping skills and get through this
I can learn from this and it will be easier next time
Help your learner see the positive by Reframing their Thoughts in a positive light.
Example of Coping Card-
My Coping Card to Beat Anxiety!
1. Anxiety is not dangerous. It can’t hurt me! It’s just a bully!
2. I can boss back my anxiety. I have done it before!
3. If my heart is racing, I get sweaty, and my tummy hurts. That means that my anxiety
is acting up. I’m not in danger.
4. I could do some relaxation now.
My Coping Card to Beat Anxiety!
1. My face is getting hot and my head is getting dizzy! My anxiety is acting up again!
2. Maybe I need to use the STOP plan now! *
3. If I’m feeling anxious, I could do some calm breathing to calm down.
4. I have lots of friends at school, and they like me even when I get anxious. They told