U.S. Department of Education Releases New Resource on Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health during COVID-19 Era

U.S. Department of Education Releases New Resource on Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health during COVID-19 Era

October 19, 2021

Today, the U.S. Department of Education released a new resource: Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students. This resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. This resource includes many real-world examples of how the recommendations are being put into action by schools, communities, and states across the country.

State Education Agencies and local school districts can use the resources in the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program (ARP ESSER), as well as previous rounds of ESSER funds, to implement these recommendations and ensure students receive the support they need. Through ARP ESSER alone, state and local education leaders have $122 billion available to them to ensure the mental health, social, emotional and academic needs of our students are met.

"Our efforts as educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science, and other core subjects to include helping students to build the social, emotional, and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and participate in learning and make the most of their potential and future opportunities," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "Amid the pandemic, we know that our students have experienced so much. We can't unlock students' potential unless we also address the needs they bring with them to the classroom each day. As educators, it's our responsibility to ensure that we are helping to provide students with a strong social and emotional foundation so that they also can excel academically."

More than 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to acknowledge the pandemic's impact on mental health at home and around the world, to present an opportunity for meaningful conversations about mental health, and to celebrate schools and other institutions that have found new and promising ways to provide mental health services to students. This document is part of the Return to School Roadmap, which stresses the importance of supporting students' social, emotional and mental health to create a strong foundation for students' academic success. 

This resource for educators and practitioners is intended to supplement and build on the information in the prior released ED COVID-19 Handbooks:

Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools,

Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs, and

Volume 3: Strategies for Safe Operation and Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Students, Faculty, and Staff,

This resource follows World Mental Health Day, earlier this month, as well as last week's announcement of new guidance from the Department and the Department of Justice on Supporting Students at Risk of Self-Harm in the Era of COVID-19. World Mental Health Day is an international day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.

The Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant action to address the mental and social emotional health needs of Americans, and the President's Build Back Better agenda includes funding and support for a wide range of programs aimed at improving access to mental health services.