What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Source: www.mentalhealth.gov

Signs & Symptoms

  • Changes in school performance

  • Poor grades despite strong efforts

  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits

  • Excessive worry or anxiety

  • Hyperactivity

  • Persistent nightmares

  • Persistent disobedience or aggression

  • Frequent temper tantrums

  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments

  • Extreme sensitivity to sounds or touch

Quick Wins

The following are evidence-based strategies that can be used in the classroom. In addition, please note that https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/ has a full line of resources for almost type of experience: family homelessness, foster care, dealing with divorce, resilience, traumatic experiences, and many more.

Focus on whatever is happening moment-by-moment without being judgmental. Actively choosing to control where you mind goes (i.e picture a beach or other positive peaceful place, while paying attention to your own breathing sounds)


A method, process, procedure or activity that helps students relax such as meditation, breathing deeply, being present, slowing down, talking to supportive person, help child self-regulate.


Assists those who have difficulty processing verbally delivered information, so that they can initiate the activity, stay focused and complete every step within the task.  This can help increase performance and reduce anxiety.


“Cubby Corner” or an area of the classroom where a child may go to help relax, refocus, re-center, and practice self-regulation.  This is a good place for students who experience sensory overload and helps with self-regulation.

A manipulative of some type, like a squishy ball, toy or other object that a child can manipulate in their hands to help reduce anxiety; a self-regulation tool

Classical music, peaceful music, nature sounds – relaxing music can help relieve anxiety, bring the child back to a resting state/base-line. This channel is called Mindful Kids. You will need to look at various resources they pist since we are not able to verify the credentials of the authors. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwHO92Tu97JWHzl3RmadNug/featured

A quiet space for children where they can be involved in tactile activities in order to refocus attention and reset physiologically.

Resource: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/199273/chapters/Strategies-to- Empower,-Not-Control,-Kids-Labeled-ADD~ADHD.aspx

Cards or sticky notes with a smiley face, straight face, or frown, that students can pick and put on a board to identify their current feelings so educators can check in with students who identify as at risk emotionally



Long Term Solutions

  • Build a strong emotional connection/relationships
  • Promote safe, healthy risk-taking
  • Resist the urge to fix-it and let them know it’s okay to ask for help – ask them questions
  • Teach problem solving-build executive functioning
  • Label emotions – teach them how to reframe
  • Nurture optimism
  • Demonstrate coping Skills
  • Meet them where they are
  • Make time for creative play
  • Let them talk


  • Value each child as an individual
  • Focus on child’s strengths
  • Reject behavior but not the child
  • Establish realistic, achievable goals
  • Avoid using sarcasm
  • Be sincere
  • Spend one on one time with them
  • Ask questions
  • Do NOT express disappointment (this creates a great burden on the child)


  • Teach kids to communicate their feelings
  • Model behavior through positive play
  • Discuss and model empathy
  • Model problem-solving skills
  • Use social scenarios to practice
  • All children to figure it out


  • Support healthy behaviors
  • Develop essential health awareness and skills
  • Secure nurturing attachment to caregiver
  • Structure-set rules and expectations
  • Establish and provide social connections
  • Provide concrete supports for parents
  • Model social and emotional competence
  • Encourage positive peer relationships

Resource: https://www.edutopia.org/video/6-teacher-approved-tips- faster-more-effective-feedback

  • Provide opportunities for peer interactions
  • Provide opportunities for positive play
  • Allow children to learn about others, including peers and others they interact with throughout the day
  • Model cognitive learning skills
  • Model negotiation skills
  • Model problem solving and self-control
  • Monitor peer interactions to avoid and stop potential bullying


WVDE Disclaimer

Please Note: Links to resources outside the West Virginia Department of Education’s website do not constitute an endorsement by the WVDE. Users should vet linked resources to meet audience needs.

WVDE Disclaimer

Please Note: Links to resources outside the West Virginia Department of Education’s website do not constitute an endorsement by the WVDE. Users should vet linked resources to meet audience needs.