Healthy Minds

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast


How Do You Prioritize Mental Health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on adult and children’s mental health, but it can be difficult to know how to really prioritize mental health and reduce the stigmas surrounding it.

Mental health is an important part of everyone’s overall well-being. Although physical health tends to be talked about more frequently, mental health is just as important and is also directly linked to physical health. When we take good care of our bodies, we can sleep better and give our mind the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. When we take good care of our mental health, we can reduce aches, pains and digestive issues, which helps us feel better physically.

It’s important to support the mental health of all children—before, during and after challenges arise. This means that mental health should be an everyday priority, woven into your families’ regular routines, and that all children (and parents!) should have access to the supports necessary to cope with the stresses of life.

Mother and daughter meditating

National PTA Awarded by Child Mind Institute

National PTA is committed to supporting families on their journey to make mental health a priority by providing tools and resources to empower families to take action.

Child Mind Institute Change Maker Award



What is Mental Health?

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. (World Health Organization)

When some people think about mental health, they only think about mental illnesses such as depression. However, this is just one component of mental health. As Mental Health America explains, “While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.”

To help support the mental health of yourself, your children and your community, it’s important to consider all aspects of a child’s life, from their academics to their hobbies to their social and emotional skills. By supporting the whole child, teachers and parents provide the support necessary for children to thrive.

Daughter wellness image

student-counselor


Healthy Minds Toolkits

Learn more about having Healthy Minds.



 

For PTA Leaders: Healthy Minds

 

PTAs play an important role in:

  1. Helping families understand that for children to thrive both in the classroom and in life, they must be healthy not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too.

  2. Connecting what is happening in families’ homes to what is happening within the school building.

  3. Supporting school leadership in providing relevant school-based mental health supports and services to families and teaching positive social and emotional skills to kids.

Healthy Minds Toolkit

 

PTAs can accomplish this by doing the following three parts of our Healthy Minds program:

Listen to and Learn from Your School Community


  • Learn the mental health needs of your school community.
  • Identify gaps in existing school mental health services and supports.

Resources

These resources can help your PTA do this.

  • Guide: Understanding the needs of your school community
  • Tool: School-wide needs assessment survey
  • Tool: Family focus group or 1-on-1 discussion questions

Partner with Your School Leadership


  • Review existing local and district school mental health survey data, resources and services.
  • Share family feedback with local and district school administration.
  • Discuss together ways your PTA can support school leadership in:
    • Providing relevant school-based mental health supports and services to families.
    • Teaching positive social and emotional skills to kids.
  • Form a “Healthy Minds Advisory Team.”

Resources

These resources can help your PTA do this.

  • Guide: Creating strong partnerships with school leadership.
  • Tool: Template letter to school district leadership.
  • Job description: Healthy Minds Advisory Team

Empower Families with the Information and Tools they Need to Make Mental Health a Priority


  • Promote and distribute National PTA’s Healthy Minds family tools and resources.
  • Use social medial/email/newsletter messaging to reach families.

Resources

These resources can help your PTA do this.

  • Guide: Communicating effectively about mental health
  • Tool: Communication templates (social media, emails, newsletter)
  • Tool: School mental health services personnel



 

Webinars: How Your PTA Can Help Improve Students’ Mental Health

 

What it Means to Fully Support Mental Health in Schools


Benjamin S. Fernandez, MS. Ed., National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of School Psychologists

Webinar Description and Transcript

Now more than ever, it’s important to understand how mental health systems serving children and youth should work, what services are available and what approaches to mental health are most effective for your school community. Sponsored by GoGuardian, this training covers the core components of mental health, how mental health intersects with learning, the vital role schools and PTAs play, and why it matters. Watch this webinar recording from September 2020 to learn the importance of taking a multi-tiered systems approach, who the key resources are in your building to support your efforts and why PTA leaders need to be prepared to educate and collaborate with school officials to improve their school’s mental health supports.

Here is the English transcript, the Spanish transcript and the Mandarin transcript.

Taking Action to Improve Mental Health


Sam Brinton

Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs, The Trevor Project

Keygan Miller

Keygan Miller, Advocacy Associate, The Trevor Project

Trevor Project

Webinar Description and Transcript

You may realize that your school, district and/or state’s existing mental health policies don’t go far enough to address the current mental health challenges students are facing. This training, sponsored by GoGuardian, addresses how PTA leaders can effectively advocate for the mental health needs that exist now and those that will arise throughout this school year. Check out this webinar recording from September 2020 to learn more about methods of advocacy and ways to get support for recommended policies, as well as specific policies schools benefit from having and the need to be inclusive of all students in the policies that are created.

Here is the English transcript, Spanish transcript, and Mandarin transcript.




 

For Families: Healthy Minds

 

Families play an important role in:

  1. Providing children with strong mental health support
  2. Incorporating positive mental health practices into their daily lives.
  3. Helping your children if they are struggling emotionally, mentally and physically.

National PTA has created tools to increase families’ knowledge, skills and confidence about:

How to Talk Openly and Often about Mental Health

How to Use Strategies to Strengthen and Prioritize Mental Health in your Daily Lives

Knowing the Signs of Someone who is Struggling Emotionally and How to Get Help


 

Access Topic-Specific Family Resources

 

Depending on where your family is on your mental health journey, you may be looking for different types of supports. Although everyone’s circumstances are different, there are actions all families can take to strengthen their mental health—and you can start by taking small steps!

Over the course of the rest of this year, National PTA will be releasing additional resources to help make it easier to prioritize mental health. For now, we encourage you to use some of our informational resources below to begin learning more about Social Emotional Learning and how you can proactively work to strengthen your family’s mental health. We also have resources on Depression, Anxiety and Loneliness & Isolation so you can better understand these topics, learn how to recognize the signs, and know how to take action to address these issues if they arise.


 

Social Emotional Learning

Children, as well as adults, are likely to experience anxiety in this uncertain time. Several resources have been created by leading mental health experts on how to have age-appropriate, fact-based and reassuring conversations with you children about the outbreak and the steps they can take to stay healthy.

Social Emotional Learning Resources 

 

Depression

One in six adults will experience some type of depression in their lifetime. It’s important to know what depression is and how it can be managed so you can address it if it arises for yourself and/or your children.

Depression Resources 

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder. Each year 18% of adults in the U.S. experience anxiety, and 31% have had anxiety at some point in their lives. Approximately 8% of children and adolescents also experience anxiety each year. Use these resources to better understand what anxiety is and how it can be managed.

Anxiety Resources 

 

Loneliness & Isolation

As National PTA and Learning Heroes’ recent poll—A Year Into the Pandemic: Parents’ Perspectives on Academics, Assessments and Educationfound, “more than 7 in 10 parents (72%) indicated they worried ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ about their child missing out on important social interactions at school or with friends, more than any other issue/topic.” Check out these resources to better understand what loneliness and isolation can look like and what your family can do about it.

Loneliness & Isolation 

 

Grief, Loss & Resiliency


 

Partner Resources




 

Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast

Notes from the Backpack features real conversations with real parents, experts and educators who offer real-life advice, ideas and strategies parents can use to help their children succeed in and out of school.

Episodes Focused on Mental Health



 

Founding & Supporting Sponsors

GoGuardian Pear Deck

Allstate Foundation

New York Life Foundation

CDC Foundation