Mental and Behavioral Health | Newsletter Launch March 2021

March 2021

Mental & Behavioral Health Newsletter

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Greetings from TEA! 

We hope that this finds you well and feeling energized with the arrival of Spring. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent winter storms, have had a major impact on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that are stressful, overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. As we work through this unprecedented era, this newsletter offers resources for your own self-care, and resources to assist you as you support others.

An overarching goal for TEA’s mental health work is to advance wellness and resiliency in education through our AWARE Texas project.  Over the coming months, we will disseminate new resources that are in development for school mental health and safe and supportive schools.  

We are grateful for Texas school personnel, volunteers and partners who have been leading, protecting, feeding, engaging, outreaching, teaching, and supporting the emotional and mental well-being of the students and families in communities across Texas.

Upcoming Events

Join the Highly Mobile and At-Risk Team quarterly Webinar on April 1, 2021. This Webinar is for LEA leaders and education teams who support all student groups who are at-risk and highly mobile. The Division includes students who are homeless, students in foster care, pregnant and parenting, students with mental and behavioral health challenges, students engaged in the juvenile justice system, and students who are at-risk of dropping out of school.  The team also works to address and prevent human trafficking and child abuse and promote safe and supportive schools.

Texas Mental Health Creative Arts Contest:  Thank you to Texas educators who participated in 2021 and submitted creative arts for the Texas Mental Health Art contest!  This event is annually coordinated by HHSC with the Texas System of Care collaborators, including TEA. The goal of this contest is to promote mental health awareness through the creative arts.  In May, 2021 contest winners; including student art, poetry, essays, short stories, and photography will be featured on the linked Texas System of Care Website. While there, you can also appreciate the art gallery from 2018-2020 winners. Works of art are expressions of “why mental health matters to me”.

Are you interested in reframing stress and its impact? Consider visiting Stanford’s SPARQtools: Rethinking Stress Toolkit. This toolkit walks participants through a series of videos and exercises to help with stress identification, welcoming stress, and utilizing stress in a positive manner.

Featured Grief and Trauma Informed Training

Project Restore: TEA developed this online, training resource for educators to support the emotional wellbeing and social needs of students and school staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. School teams are successfully utilizing the resource as a lesson study, professional learning community, or individually in a self-paced setting.  Completing the six modules counts for grief-informed and trauma-informed professional development requirements as well as for continuing education credits for Texas educators.  This resource provides meaningful strategies for advancing wellness and resiliency in education!

Mental & Behavioral Health Awareness Dates

Spring Awareness Months

April – Child Abuse Prevention Month

May – Mental Health Awareness Month

May - Foster Care Awareness Month


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 Self Care Tips

March 2021 marks one year since COVID-19 began disrupting our lives. The levels of stress, anxiety, overwhelm and compassion fatigue have grown substantially in people’s lives during this time. Below are a few practical tips that can help support overall wellness and resiliency during this time.

  1. Get enough sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep increases daily productivity and boosts mood.
  2. Exercise daily. Getting up and moving for at least 30-45 minutes of a sustained activity.
  3. Eat healthy and well-balanced meals. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Make sure that you are getting adequate protein, healthy fats, and a variety of vegetables. Avoid processed foods and sugar.
  4. Go outdoors. Getting outside can help you escape the stressors of work and school. Being outdoors is good for your mind and mood and can help strengthen your immune system.
  5. Build a strong support system. Connect with friends and family and embrace new and existing interests.
  6. Manage stress. Although some stress can fuel motivation and drive, when we don’t properly manage stress it can lead to exhaustion, burn out and physical ailments. Find some time each day to sit quietly and take a deep breath. Try starting your day with a few minutes of deep breathing exercises.

Featured TEA Mental Health Resources for Schools

Mental Health Agencies, Support Lines, Community Resources: TEA created this helpful quick-reference tool for your desk-top as part of our COVID-19 response one year ago. Key numbers and links are embedded to help you connect students and families with local community services or specialized providers when needs are identified. Staff are encouraged to keep this tool on hand when working through local systems of support for students and their families.

FAQ for Remote Counseling and Student Support Services:  TEA created this resource to support schools when transitioning to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic response. The guidance continues to be relevant for providing remote counseling and related student support services in remote education settings.

Educator Wellness: TEA developed this resource to equip school leaders to support educator wellness when returning to school for the 20-21 school year and beyond. Addressing educator wellness is an ongoing and intentional process that is critical for the health and well-being of your school staff! Shout outs to school leadership teams for supporting the wellbeing of Texas educators!  

Winter Storm Update and Trauma-Informed- ResourcesTEA provided an FAQ to school districts during the February 2021 storm to support disaster response and recovery. Understanding that this storm was another stressor for Texas families and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can have a compounding traumatic impact, is important. TEA put together resources under Question 15 (page 7) on the linked FAQ that provides disaster behavioral health resources.  These links are to support LEAs to assist the well-being of students and families after a severe weather event.

TEA Mental and Behavioral Health Resources:  Visit TEA’s website for research-based practices, best practice-based programs, and training resources recommended by both the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and TEA pursuant to Texas Education Code § 38.351.

TEA Employment Opportunities

TEA will be posting an open position for the Project AWARE State Coordinator in early April.  Please check the linked TEA Employment Opportunities Webpage frequently as new opportunities are made available to join the team at TEA!

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 LEA Spotlight

Channelview ISD has partnered with BACODA and Fortis Academy to change the way the district handles substance misuse. Five years ago, district leadership analyzed in their data that students were being assigned to Disciplinary Alternative Education Placements (DAEP) without recovery interventions, for first time offender drug possession. They explored community resources and developed an option for families to aid students in the addiction treatment and recovery process.  Using funds from their Title IV, Part A grant, the district created a pathway for intervention where students can stay connected to their school community.  As a result, the number of students placed in the DAEP has decreased over the years. 

This positive behavior intervention and its impact created ripple effects seen among both staff and students regarding substance misuse or dependency. Students are now more likely to go to school counselors, or teachers, to seek help. Additionally, teachers report feeling more comfortable referring students for help because there are now counseling options for treatment and recovery, rather than an exclusionary discipline placement.

Channelview ISD is a district of 12 campuses with over 9,500 students east of Houston. BACODA currently serves Harris County, Galveston County, Matagorda County and Brazoria County.

Stakeholder Spotlight

The Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH), housed at the University of Texas at Austin brings the fields of public policy, research, and implementation science to the planning, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining of behavioral health best practices, including school mental health practices.  TIEMH partners with TEA and HHSC  to implement school  mental health and wellness initiatives through TEA’s Project AWARE Texas and The South Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) , part of a national network funded by SAMHSA, which is located at TIEMH.  Learn more by exploring TIEMH and MHTTC network resources through the linked Websites.