Mental Health for PTA Leaders

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For PTA Leaders: Healthy MindsFor PTA Leaders

 

PTA’s are perfectly positioned to connect families, students and teachers to mental health resources to reach the following goals:

  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.

  4. Ensuring that mental health supports are available and accessible to all students and recognize the uniqueness of each child.

Healthy Minds Toolkit for PTA Leaders

 

The National PTA Healthy Minds Program provides framework to 1) Listen to and Learn from Your School Community, 2) Partner with your School Administration,  3) Share useful resources and information with families, and 4) Build a Healthy Minds program that will best fit the needs of your community by utilizing National PTA’s program materials to create learning and engagement opportunities for families at your school.

Planning

Utilize the Guide to Running the PTA Healthy Minds Program to get started in your program planning.

Before you start planning, take time to listen and learn about the mental health needs of your school community through:

  • Asking to meet with your school administration, teachers, and school counselors to learn about what the school is already doing and what the challenges are.
  • Gathering feedback from parents directly through a school-wide survey or a parent focus group(s).

This information will help you determine the needs of your school and if there are any specific topics your Healthy Minds program may need to address.

Resources:

Once you have received feedback from you school community identify who can help with planning, promoting and implementing your program. A key partner for you is your school’s leadership and staff. Start planning your program by meeting with them to:

  1. Share the goals of the PTA Healthy Minds program and feedback from the needs assessment or plan to use the needs assessment.
  2. Find out what the school is already offering to support students' mental health and build students’ social and emotional skills.
  3. Ask them to share existing school or district data on student mental health to build parents’ understanding of the needs of their students. 
  4. Brainstorm ideas for PTA’s Healthy Minds program in partnership with school leadership. 
Resources:
Promoting

You not only want to promote whatever programming you are doing but also share resources to  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. Share throughout the year and/or focus on a certain time period such as Mental Health Awareness Month in May.
  • Use social medial/email/newsletter messaging to reach families.
Resources:
Hosting

Your PTA will create mental health programming based on your community’s needs with the following goals in mind:

  1. Build the knowledge and skills of parents and families to support their child’s mental health and help enhance their child’s social-emotional skills and resilience by distributing resources and hosting learning opportunities;
  2. Provide the resources and support so parents take action to strengthen their family and child’s mental health; and
  3. Partner with your school to build and strengthen mental health and social-emotional learning (SEL) supports and services. The format and structure of each program will vary based on the unique needs of each school community.

To meet the above goals you can utilize one or more of the following components to create your Healthy Minds programming:

1.  Host a PTA Healthy Minds Parent Education Session or Series

Create opportunities for families to learn together and discuss important Healthy Minds topics as a group. This helps to build community and show everyone that they’re not alone. Distribute resources and materials during in-person sessions or by email.  A PTA member can facilitate, or you can partner with your school or community organization to facilitate.

  • Host an In-Person or At-Home Real-Time “PTA Healthy Minds Session." This lets everyone participate and interact together. All of the materials you’ll need are below. Based on the Community Needs Assessment you can choose to host one or all three.
  • Or, if it better meets the needs of your community, you can also give families an At-Home Self-Paced option where they can watch these videos which cover similar (but shortened) content from the PTA Healthy Minds Sessions.

The PTA Healthy Minds Education Series includes a Planning Guide, handouts to share and the following slide decks with talking points and At-Home videos.

The Healthy Minds Educational Session(s) planning guide includes the three sessions outlined below:


PTA Healthy Minds 101
  • In-Person and At-Home Real-Time Models
    • Slide Deck
      • The Facilitator's notes can be found in the note section of the PowerPoint.
  • At-Home Self-Paced Model



  • Share these handouts with families as well.
PTA Healthy Minds: Building Social and Emotional Skills at Home
PTA Healthy Minds: Building Resilience
  • In-Person and At-Home Real-Time Models
    • Slide Deck
      • The Facilitator's notes can be found in the note section of the PowerPoint.
  • At-Home Self-Paced Model



  • Share these handouts with families as well.

  • 2.  Host a PTA Community Mental Health Education Event or Wellness Fair

    Utilizing feedback from your school community, host an event that creates the opportunity to share information, have activities related to mental health and/or work with community partners focused on mental health to connect families to community resources.

    • Create a wellness fair that offers diverse opportunities to engage and learn about mental health for the whole family
    • Host a community education program that focuses on one mental health topic or the opportunity to learn about multiple and/or highlighting school or community resources and partners

    3.  Advocate for Mental Health Supports

    While typically the goal of advocacy is to create some type of systems change, advocacy can also be used as self care! Use the needs highlighted in the community needs assessment to identify local, state or federal opportunities to advocate for policies or procedures that would increase support for the mental needs of your school community.

    • Local: work with your school administration and local school board as a starting place to understand the policies, procedures and resources available and the process to fill unmet needs. Utilize the toolkit from the Mental Health Literacy Coalition to help bring mental health education to your community.
    • State: Find out specifically where your state is in terms of youth mental health and action steps you can take here through the Hopeful Futures Campaign.
    • Federal: National PTA is championing efforts for welcoming, inclusive and supportive schools. Refer to our two-pager from National PTA's Legislative Conference to read more details on this specific issue and specific legislative asks.

    National PTA’s Public Policy Priorities for the 118th Congress includes those related to mental health. Find the full list of priorities here.

    Celebrating Impact
    • We encourage you to share the post-event Family Survey at PTA.org/Survey with your program attendees to help National PTA celebrate and enhance our programming.
    • Check out #HowWePTA for more stories and examples of program successes.
    Examples of Past PTAs' Healthy Minds Programming
    • Facilitated three In-Person Healthy Minds learning sessions at the monthly "Coffee and Conversations" already scheduled at school. Created a Healthy Minds spotlight in school newsletter to share resources and information. Created a new Staff Wellness Room and added new materials for the Restorative Room for students.

    • Partnered with school counselor and community mental health professional to host the three (3) Healthy Minds parent sessions and also partnered with a community mental health professional to create programming specific to anxiety which was a big need identified in the Community Needs Assessment. Offered childcare for all sessions.

    • Held a Healthy Minds fair during open house night. Invited mental health community professional so families could connect and learn about available resources and pickup handouts printed from the National PTA website.

    • Worked with the school counselor and physical education teacher to create tools to support students’ mental health, including relaxation stations, physical activities and healthy eating.  

    • Utilizing feedback from the Community Needs Assessment, held a "Who's Who" night where the staff in our school responsible for academic support, mental wellness and family connections introduced themselves to our families. Worked with school counselors and bought age appropriate SEL books for each classroom-based teacher.

    • Organized monthly lunch bunches with parents to raise awareness of mental health issues and the impact of COVID-19 on students.

    • Created a Kindness Program that used books focused on SEL as a starting point and had parents and middle school students engage with the younger classrooms (K-5) to have discussions and activities to go with the book readings. Met regularly with middle school students who are part of the Kindness Team to discuss ways to create a better school climate where everyone can feel healthy and safe.

    • Created a Mental Health Toolkit that was published on their school system’s website and created a QR code for ease of access.

    • Provided Healthy Minds materials in the office, at special events and directly from Guidance Counselors to families and students who came in for help.

    • Based on the survey responses, implemented a comprehensive Mental Health & Wellness Week program: daily theme/classroom activities, extra daily activities/videos for students to do on their own, interactive student workshops for 8th grade students led by an LPC that the school partners with.

    • Partnered with school’s Counseling and Physical Education departments to turn the month of March into Wellness Month at the school. Provided a range of social emotional to physical activities each day to engage students and school staff.

    • Partnered with school and showed two documentary films related to mental health in all history classes. 

    • Distributed positive message stickers, fidget tools, and Big Life journals for participating students as a piece of their Healthy Minds programming.

    • Planned a Healthy Minds Fair as part of the school’s open house event.

    • Furnished the school playground for students to practice mindfulness during recess/ lunch breaks.

    Additional Opportunities

    As a PTA leader, you are also well-positioned to help your school become part of the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative (GSSI), which seeks to better equip teachers to care for grieving students by introducing GrievingStudents.org and other valuable grief resources to local schools at no cost. You will already be doing some of this work by participating in the PTA Healthy Minds program, so why not look into taking it a step further? Go here to learn more about the process of becoming a Grief-Sensitive School. Have questions? Email nylfoundation@newyorklife.com.

    Healthy Minds Webinars

    Taking Action to Improve Mental Health



    How Your PTA Can Help Improve Students' Mental Health

     

    Webinar Transcripts

    Healthy Minds Summit at the National PTA 2021 Convention

    What is Mental Health?
    What is Mental Health?
    What is SEL
    What is SEL
    How PTA Leaders Can Advocate for Mental Health
    How PTA Leaders Can Advocate for Mental Health
    How PTA Leaders Can Create Space for Conversations
    How PTA Leaders Can Create Space for Conversations
    How PTA Leaders Can Foster Community Partnerships
    How PTA Leaders Can Foster Community Partnerships
    How PTA Can Keep DEI at the Forefront
    How PTA Can Keep DEI at the Forefront
    Key Factors Impacting People's Mental Health
    Key Factors Impacting People's Mental Health
    Learn From What Other PTAs Have Done
    Learn From What Other PTAs Have Done
    Mental Health Support Cycle for Children
    Mental Health Support Cycle for Children
    The Importance of Being Proactive About Mental Health
    The Importance of Being Proactive About Mental Health

     

    Founding Sponsor



    New York Life Foundation



    Supporting Sponsor



    Active Minds