Jun 12 2023

Teaching Emotional Regulation and Resilience Is Key to Physical Safety

School administrators should invest in technology that promotes continued mental health education and awareness.

Mental health providers in schools — including counselors, social workers and psychologists — are seeing an increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in K–12 students. In May 2022, 70 percent of schools experienced a rise in the number of students seeking mental health services, The Washington Post reported, citing a National Center for Education Statistics survey.

Mental health and brain development fall under one of the four pillars of physical safety in K–12 schools. Teaching students to practice emotional regulation, starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school graduation, builds resilience that can carry students through difficult times.

Students who have practiced resilience can find ways to focus on the good things that give them strength, even in hard times. This can prevent students from getting to a place where they’re willing to hurt themselves or others.

Starting with very young students — who can be taught to use what the BrainWise curriculum calls their “wizard brain” instead of their “lizard brain” — creates the foundation for ongoing lessons in mental wellness. There are tools and solutions that help students of all ages with these practices, and incorporating them into daily learning can even help educators reflect on and regulate their mental state.


The percentage of staff who expressed concerns over their personal social, emotional and mental health

Source: IES.ed.gov “School Pulse Panel: Parent, Student, and Staff Concerns,” Marchh 2022

Educational institutions can use these technologies in many ways, all with the intention of gauging and improving students’ brain development and mental health. Additionally, school admins and IT leaders must ensure they’re working with reputable companies that provide these services to meet the ultimate goal of happy, healthy students.

Technology Encourages Daily Teacher Check-Ins with Students

Perhaps one of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is the rise in teacher-led emotional check-ins. With one-to-one student devices, it’s become easier than ever for educators to routinely check in with their students to gauge their emotional well-being. Many programs allow educators to begin class this way. They can send out a survey to each student’s device, and the students can report on their emotional state.

Microsoft, for example, has Feelings Monsters, where each emotion is represented by a cartoon monster. This outreach allows teachers to quickly see which students might be feeling sad, anxious or lonely, without the need for that student to self-report in front of the entire class. Educators can then check in on these students, track patterns and recommend additional support for the student if necessary.

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These check-ins also allow educators to adapt their classes in real time. If an entire class is experiencing negative feelings, it’s a good opportunity for the teacher to stop and discuss the causes and potential solutions before moving on with planned curriculum.

Virtual Meetings Help Counselors Reach and Support Students

K–12 mental health professionals are also able to use technology in their work with students to improve communication and expand their reach. While many counselors, social workers and school psychologists still prefer to offer services face to face, the pandemic often made virtual meetings a necessity. Additionally, in rural school districts, virtual options allow mental health professionals in schools to reach more students quickly.

This is crucial as schools continue to face staffing and funding challenges. The National Center for Education Statistics survey also found that only 12 percent of schools strongly agreed that their school is able to “effectively provide mental health services to all students in need,” The Washington Post reported.

DISCOVER: Consider these technology resources for social-emotional learning.

Coming out of the pandemic, these virtual meetings have also helped prepare classes and the community to welcome back students who have been out of school due to trauma, health concerns or the loss of a parent or loved one. Virtual connections have helped counselors and social workers do whole group instruction in these instances.

Before a student returns to class, mental health professionals can meet with the family and determine their wishes and how to effectively share those, whether the student wants to share or have the teacher share with the class. The counselors can also work with the teachers to reintroduce the student to a safe place.

Such considerations allow schools to provide care and love to students who may be going through difficult times.

Vet Mental Health Technologies to Find the Best Fit for Your School

The market is teeming with companies eager to provide mental health services to schools for a price. The best companies — and the ones that will survive the longest — aren’t in it to monetize mental health services. Find companies that are providing services because they care about the well-being of students.

Carefully assess which companies will be able to take their proposed solutions and scale them to accommodate 10,000 students and staff. Many won’t be able to provide the services they offer at scale.

One of the best ways to vet companies for genuine intentions and scalable solutions is to do your own research, rather than waiting for the company to come to you. Find organizations and partners through reputable relationships and do research on companies before buying into their products. CDW partners with many companies that offer mental health technologies, and its experts can help you determine which solutions are right for your staff and students.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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