According to CDC, 1 in 6 U.S. children had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. The prevalence of mental health issues in middle schoolers is even more. Academic stress, peer pressure, inability to find an avenue to express themselves, etc. are all the key contributors. Self-awareness and correct redirection of emotions is a learned art and it comes from SEL-based learning while at school.


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Common mental health issues in students

Mental health issues in children can surface in various forms. Some examples are as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Conduct Disorder (CD)
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Tourette Syndrome.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Why is it alarming?

CDC states that Mental health is an important part of children’s overall health and well-being. Mental health includes children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. It affects how children think, feel, and act.

It also plays a role in how children handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. If not addressed in time, these can affect the children’s whole life, and a lot of times these impacts are irreversible. Hence, timely SEL-based corrective interventions while at school can save a lot of children from falling into this never-ending spiral.

How exactly can SEL help in reducing mental health issues?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is now increasingly being recognized as one of the key levers in promoting good mental health in children. SEL promotes positive self- development through the bettering social and emotional skills. These skills then form the basis of overall success in life. SEL teaches children how to name their emotions and manage them. Hence, children exposed to SEL show better overall success and happiness levels in life. The research has shown it and many parents and teachers swear by the difference it has made.

Key skills taught within the SEL framework

In a nutshell, SEL aims at making students resilient human beings. Hence, the focus is on building social and emotional skills needed to survive the pressures of academics, peers, and expectations of oneself. SEL doesn’t just help students at an individual level but also helps in fostering and maintaining a positive school environment. These are the environments where students can feel safe and belong to. Moreover, note that mental health is not an isolated state of being that exists only within a child. It is influenced by the interactions between the child and their environment. Hence, SEL-based curriculums can do a lot to teach students the necessary social-emotional skills that encompass the following:

  • Self-awareness: Being able to name one’s feelings and emotions and call out the stressors wherever possible.
  • Self-management: Managing one’s reactions and actions in unfavorable, difficult, or unpleasant situations. This includes various daily situations while at school, at home, or in public places. Self-management also includes being able to plan & prioritize work and juggle with multiple tasks without losing the cool.
  • Responsible decision-making: This includes making responsible and well-informed choices and fully owning the outcomes. A major part of this skill is to treat every failure as a learning opportunity and to reflect on the journey objectively.
  • Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others. Social awareness skills include empathy, appreciation of differences, and respect.
  • Relationship skills: These are the skills needed by every individual to have and sustain happy and fulfilling relationships. Key relationship skills are communicating clearly, listening, cooperation, resisting negative pressure, resolving conflicts, and supporting one another.

Also check out: 3 Actionable Tips to Teach Children Better Self-Control

The world of difference SEL can make to mental issues

As you must have already gotten a hint of, the skills listed above are actually necessary life skills. These skills are taught within SEL programs and hence enable children to thrive. Children learn the best while having a passion and spark for life. It’s exactly what SEL fosters in them. As an educator, you can help your students ward off mental health threats posed by various external factors. By implementing SEL using the right tools, you’ll be able to do more than ticking a box. Stop thinking and act now to see how SEL can change your school’s climate!

Explore Palo’s SEL and Skill-Building Program for middle schoolers

We have designed Palo to support educators implement SEL at schools (with a special focus on the middle schoolers). We provide direct instruction to students via the Palo app, with zero prep needed for educators.

Moreover, we offer bite-sized professional development to support educators also along the way. You don’t have to bat an eyelid to worry about implementation with Palo. We take care of end-to-end seamless integration and implementation. Hence, all you can focus on is identifying actionable insights and taking measures appropriately. All this, while maximizing your RoI on the SEL program. Need more reasons to enroll with Palo? Read on!

  • We are cost-effective and low maintenance. It means you can continue with our skill-building program for years to come without putting pressure on your budget!
  • Palo offers flexible learning. It means it can be done synchronously (eg: as part of bell ringer activities) and asynchronously (at one’s own time and pace).
  • Our skill-building curriculum uses storytelling techniques, animated videos, quizzes, play-based challenges, and self-reflection to keep students engaged and motivated.
  • We have created our app to be a safe space for middle schoolers to express themselves freely!
  • We have designed our curriculum in accordance with CASEL norms and ASCA guidelines. Hence, you don’t have to worry about the quality of SEL guidance you’ll be extending to your students.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a free demo and check out all our offerings for schools.

Also watch: Tips to Increase Your Students’ Attention Span




Home Schooling Author Pragya