Wrapping Up and Thinking Ahead

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May 2021

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Greetings from TEA!

We hope this finds you well during the lovely Spring season in Texas. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This issue is dedicated to all educators and leaders as you wrap up the 2020-21 school year, plan for Summer, and envision the 2021-22 school year. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage all school employees to set aside some intentional time for your own self-care.

For your school communities, we encourage you to reflect on the needs of your students, colleagues, and the communities that we serve. Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to consider opportunities to address comprehensive school mental health as a strategy to support learning. This newsletter issue provides information to help you reflect and plan.

Most importantly, take time during Mental Health Awareness Month to strengthen mental health awareness in your own life and in your professional development journey. Thank you for all that you do to advance wellness and resiliency in education!

Wrapping Up School Year Self-Care Tips

With only a few more weeks to go before the end of the school year, levels of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm can spike. Below are some tips on how to finish strong with a focus on mental health and wellness. Take care of yourself and prepare for the summer ahead!

  1. Practice Mindfulness: Being mindful helps you with setting boundaries and bringing focus. Allow time for a walk, exercise or movement that you enjoy. Make deep beathing an intentional part of your day, especially when you are feeling tense. Try leading a few minutes of focused breathing with your students to bring emotional regulation and mental focus. Mobilize brief mindfulness practices in transition to new content or a stressful instructional activity. Intentionally modeling self-care strategies will help you and your students end the school year strong.
  2. Spend time with others who bring you joy: Many people have felt a sense of “languishing” and a lack of joy over the past year. Consider how you can surround yourself with people who are positive, lift you up, and encourage you. Leaning on your support system can help celebrate life’s highs and help ease difficult times. Positive thinking and spending time with positive people reduces stress, increases your energy, wellbeing and success. Express gratitude to these people in your life. Expressing gratitude can bring you joy and help you thrive.
  3. Protect your sleep: Studies have shown that school administrators and educators sleep less than the average adult. Physically, lack of sleep disrupts basic functions, such as immune regulation, metabolic control, learning, and memory. It is associated with a variety of health and mental health problems. Be mindful that you deserve to get your full eight hours of sleep. Quality sleep will help you recharge mental batteries and end the school year strong!

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Summer Program Planning Tips

As schools are planning for summer programs to address learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and education experts have teamed up to offer a few collaboration tips when planning for summer school.

  • Make summer feel a little different and special for everyone. Incorporate activities to nurture the social and emotional well-being of educators, program staff, students, and families. Include counselors to teach lessons on topics such as emotional wellness, building resiliency, and goal setting. Have counselors and service providers offer office hours whenever possible.

Extended Example:

Social, Emotional, Character, and Life Skills Development.  Summer learning programs offer a great opportunity to innovate and integrate age-appropriate skill-building lessons into tutoring and accelerated learning time. Teaching, modeling, and reinforcing skills can be accomplished during extended day, extend year, out-of-school time and during the regular school day. 

Featured Resources:  On the TEA Mental and Behavioral Health Website there is a recommended resource, The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), that can support administrators to learn more about the competencies, strategies, and research to get started. 

In addition to the TEA Website, there is a growing field of aligned education research, technology, and training for school leaders to review and select that can benefit your teachers, students, families, and communities. Be on the lookout on the TEA mental and behavioral health pages for a new TEA School Mental Health Website with more resources that will launch this summer!

  • Identify partners. Many times we find partners who we did not know existed. Partners are in the schools, community organizations, and even camps. Local education agencies can develop cooperative, engaging, and wholistic summer learning opportunities that meet shared missions this summer. The whole community has a stake in tutoring, mentoring, learning new skills, and nurturing the well-being of its citizens.

Extended Example:

Strong and resilient families are important to child development, student success, and healthy communities. Consider partnering with a community organization to offer family education workshops this summer, such as a local mental health authority, a local youth and family service organization, Communities In Schools, after-school centers, or another trusted organization. Families have been struggling emotionally during the pandemic, as well. Families may benefit from sessions that help build resilience and will compliment your student support services this summer.

Featured Resource: The Parent Guide to Resilience Why Try is offering this free resource during the pandemic to help families build resilience.  Content and discussion within the 10 chapters can be facilitated by counselors, social workers, or family education partners. These lessons can increase resilience for parents, guardians, and children to strengthen student success. Consider needs for language translation, childcare, and convenient times for families to attend any family involvement workshops.

There are many other family workshops and courses that might be available to you online or in your community.


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Planning Ahead Tips

  • Build a long-term strategy. If a collaborative learning program that leverages multiple funding sources, providers, and volunteers can begin in the summer, imagine the meaningful benefits and relationships that can accrue for strong and supportive learning environments into the fall!

Extended Example:

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support are the result of collaborative and multidisciplinary teams working together to address goals and needs in a school, including learning, mental health, and safety.  An MTSS team, called many different names in practice, is an evidence-based strategy.  Many students benefit when education system professionals and community service providers coordinate to deliver accessible and evidence-based interventions when and where teachers, students, and families need them. 

Featured Resources:   Access mental health and counseling resources through your ESC, community mental health providers, and other partners, such as the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium which provides telemedicine or telehealth in schools. Explore using new federal funding allocated for COVID-19 recovery to add mental health professionals, counselors, psychologists, and social workers to your staffing pattern. Hiring these multidisciplinary professionals will increase student access to mental health services when students need them, support educators, strengthen and diversify skills for your MTSS, promote learning and emotional wellness for students. Importantly, consider intentionally integrating school mental health needs into your LEA needs assessment process. Prioritize integrating mental and emotional wellbeing by addressing school mental health capacity building through an MTSS in your 2022 school year goals, strategies, District Improvement Plan, and Campus Improvement Plans. Now is the time to increase wellness and resiliency in education!

Mental & Behavioral Health Awareness Dates and Summer Events


Mental Health Awareness Month

Foster Care Awareness Month

National Teen Self Esteem Month

June 21 – June 30:

World Well-Being Week

June 27:

National PTSD Awareness Day

August 3-5: 

TEA and TNOYS Texas Education for Homeless Children & Youth Program Summit

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Upcoming Partner Events

The Texas Mental Health Creative Arts ContestWinners for the 2021 contest have been announced!  This is an annual statewide contest which gives Texans of all ages the opportunity to promote mental health awareness through the theme “Why Mental Health Matters to Me.”  For 2021, several hundred responses were submitted in various categories: Original Art, Photography, and Writing. Winners include Texas students in elementary, middle, and high school. View the art gallery by clicking on the title link. The artists will be featured at a virtual reception on Wednesday, May 26. Register to attend here.

Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Training: The South- Southwest Mental Health Technology Training Center (MHTTC) is hosting Stress Management and Resilience Training (SMART) with Dr. Amid Sood from the Mayo Clinic. SMART has been found efficacious in over 30 clinical trials for decreasing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and burnout, and increasing resilience, wellbeing, mindfulness, happiness, and positive health behaviors. Educators and school leaders are invited to attend. Limited slots are available. Click on the title to register for an initial webinar on Friday, May 28, and apply to attend a free training cohort this summer.

The 2021 Texas System of Care (TxSOC) and Community Resources Coordination Groups (CRCG) Conference is an interagency conference for youth, family members, state leaders, child-serving providers, and community leaders to hear from mental health experts, network, and learn about Texas systems and services for young people with significant mental health and/or cross-agency needs. The free virtual conference is Tuesday, July 27-Thursday, July 29. Registration opens soon at Texas System of Care. Follow Texas System of Care on Facebook and Twitter @txsystemofcare.

Featured TEA Mental Health Resources for Schools

Children’s Mental Health: National statistics show that one in four children will have a mental illness during childhood. Children diagnosed and treated are more likely to succeed at home and in the community. Follow the link to gain more information about services and resources near you.

Mental Health Agencies, Support Lines, Community Resources: School staff are encouraged to keep this tool on hand to connect students and their families with local systems of support over the summer.

FAQ for Remote Counseling and Student Support Services: This COVID-19 guidance continues to be relevant for providing remote counseling and related student support services in remote education settings over the summer.

Educator Wellness:  Addressing educator wellness is an ongoing and intentional process that is critical for the health and well-being of your school staff. Shout out to school leadership teams for supporting the wellbeing of Texas educators!

TEA Mental and Behavioral Health Resources: Visit TEA’s website for research-based practices and best practice-based programs recommended by both the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and TEA pursuant to Texas Education Code §38.351 in the 2020 updates. This is not an exhaustive list of resources. The Website links to national registries where additional resources are available for local consideration.

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Project Restore: As you plan summer professional development, boost your Trauma Informed knowledge and skills. TEA launched this service to provide school personnel with relevant science and strategies that can help address personal emotional needs, as well the needs of your students and colleagues. This series will help educators create an environment that jump starts teaching and learning and drives student achievement.

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LEA Spotlight

Humble ISD

Nearly 10 years ago, Humble ISD began to emphasize mental health and emotional well-being. Since then, the district has grown to incorporate mental health and emotional well-being practices into nearly all aspects of learning and student’s educational experiences. At the beginning of their journey, faculty noticed that great mental health and emotional well-being work was being done, but saw a need and an opportunity to align practices across campuses. The district started with establishing district-wide classroom management models and developed a common language that is utilized across all campuses.

Mental health and emotional well-being integration into the school culture is focused on supporting the whole student, including:

  • The Great 8 – Eight competencies, taught by counselors and supported by educators in K-12 classrooms. (Aligned with relevant statutes and research, including building skills for managing emotions, building and maintaining relationships, responsible decision making, etc.)
  • A Portrait of a Graduate Initiative – Engaged the community to develop six traits to promote and empower students to be productive citizens now and in the future
  • Service Learning – Including a Students Helping Veterans project to reinforce competencies
  • Credit Recovery – Integrates into instruction goals and lessons to promote the Portrait of a Graduate mission
  • IHelp – A system that allows for safe, anonymous, self-reporting and monitoring to support students in need
  • Parent University – Workshops and virtual classes for educating parents on college and career readiness, life skills, health and wellness
  • Integrated Athletics – Creates opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in competitive sports at Humble ISD
  • Community Offers and Events – Provides space for community postings and flyers for education and the arts, sports, and community services
  • Humble Relaxation Retreat – Promotes a suite of online mental and emotional wellbeing resources for school leaders, educators, parents and stakeholders
  • Kinesthetic-based learning – Integrated strategies in elementary classrooms like peddlers and standing desks
  • Yoga – A course option at the high school level for PE that includes techniques to improve overall physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being
  • Family Resources and Tip Sheets – Digital Citizenship, Bullying, Cyberbullying, etc.
  • Student Advisory Groups – increased engagement for more students, such as an advisory group that allows students to have a voice in the nutrition department
  • Proactive discipline strategies – Tracked data trends, selected differentiated practices to maintain an environment conducive to learning, prioritized engaging families, identified rights and responsibilities to promote learning, etc.
  • DAEP transition – Integrated restorative practices and other supports to help build a strong foundation for students to return successfully to their home campus

Humble ISD is increasing student achievement. Their success comes from practicing patience and continuous learning by adults in the school, and by engaging the community. They gathered data and input to reflect on what does and doesn't work for students. They have incorporated effective mental health and emotional well-being strategies into all aspects of the education system. Humble ISD is a district of 45 campuses with over 45,000 students in the Houston area.

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Stakeholder Spotlight

Bluebonnet Trails Community Services supports their community through valued services to adults with serious mental illness; to children and adolescents with serious mental illness or emotional disorders, autism or pervasive developmental disorders; to persons with developmental disabilities; and to infants and toddlers with developmental delays. Bluebonnet partners with ESC 13 and regional LEAs to implement school mental health and wellness. Services by Bluebonnet Trails include agreements to provide school-based mental health clinics in some LEAs.  Learn more by exploring Bluebonnet resources through the linked websites or find your own Local Mental Health Authority.

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Thank you and have a safe summer!