Schools and colleges are preparing for a rush of student mental health needs as campuses reopen. Amy Cranston, executive director of the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for California, said there’s plenty schools can do to help students understand and process their emotions once they return to campus. But it won’t be easy.
“Everyone thinks we’re going back to ‘normal,’ but the problem is that there is no ‘normal.’ No one is sure what to expect,” Cranston said. “I think it’s going to be a tough road for everyone — parents and teachers, too.” Mental health professionals, and SEL4CA Steering Committee members, Danielle Matthew and Soundhari Balaguru, agree.
According to Dr. Balaguru, “This is a crisis that’s going to be ongoing, and we need to give teachers time to take care of themselves on a daily basis. … Teachers are really the emotional barometer of the classroom, and if they’re dysregulated, impatient, or even simply grumpy every day, that impacts every student in their class.”
“In a lot of ways, these social-emotional skills are more important than algebra,” Family Therapist, Danielle Matthew said. “Most people don’t use algebra after high school, but you’ll use SEL skills your entire life. That’s what will get you through events like this.”