When school starts in the fall, student’s social & emotional well-being should be a priority

The National Youth Response Movement, made up of 22 students from 14 cities across the country, has identified mental health and social-emotional well being has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools transitioned to distance learning or closed altogether, many of the sources of comfort, opportunities for social & emotional development, and access to trusted adults or important services were taken away. With this in mind, our students are advocating for social-emotional and youth mental health to be a priority for schools this fall.

Please join us in asking school leaders and local officials to support and implement these four policies by sending them the letter below. Use our letter template below and make it your own, so that it’s relevant to your school and local community.

Let’s help our schools be ready to support students this fall!

Letter template:

Dear (School Leader, Local Decision Maker),

I hope you and your family are healthy and well during these unprecedented times. We are Mikva Challenge’s National Youth Response Movement, a team of students working on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you are aware, over the past few months most people are staying at home as much as they can to practice social distancing and keep our communities safe. Despite these unprecedented times, this past week has served as yet another reminder of the continuous injustice many communities and students face. These events have a huge impact on students’ mental health all while having limited access to the mental supports all students deserve.

When school once again resumes, we believe that every student will need access to mental health services and support to their social-emotional well-being, especially because mental health problems may have developed or social-emotional well-being worsened, during this pandemic. To ensure that every student gets the equal treatment they need, here are our policy recommendations:

  • Fund professional development for teachers and school staff on trauma-informed school activities and social-emotional learning strategies.
  • Fund more school-based health professionals and centers that integrate mental and physical health services to support the school community.
  • Evaluate schools’ performance on supporting students’ well-being by using performance indicators such as school climate, building positive student/teacher/school staff relationships, and connecting students to services provided by the school.
  • Acknowledge that many students belonging to minority groups have faced issues specifically connected to their racial/ethnic/cultural background and will need different supports to respond to their unique situation.
  • Allow additional funding to go to schools, especially schools with higher proportions of minority students, with the purpose of hiring culturally responsive mental health providers to make students more comfortable and provide the support they need.

We believe these policy recommendations are extremely important for schools to implement, as students will need the support of their school communities and leaders to address the negative impact due to the pandemic and continuous racial injustice.

If possible, could we set up a meeting to discuss these policy recommendations and how we can work together to advocate for them to be implemented at a state-wide/district/school level?

Thank you for your valuable time! Please feel free to reach out to me at (Insert Email Here) or (Insert Phone Number Here) with any questions you may have! We hope to speak to you soon!

(Closing – i.e. Sincerely, Best Regards, Looking forward to hearing from you, etc),

(Your Name)
Mikva Challenge National Youth Response Movement