We know that this time of year has historically been one that can be difficult for many people. While there are times of reveling and joy, there can also be feelings of stress, loss, and isolation. This experience has been compounded with the physical, fiscal and emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the possible emotional impact on students and educators early on, your Maine Department of Education worked to prioritize mental health and social-emotional supports. Since March, the DOE’s Office of School and Student Supports has been deeply committed to bolstering the emotional well-being of our school communities by providing resources, technical assistance and general support.
At the outset, a focus was on the foundational support of relationships and creating safe schools where students could connect, engage, and get support, no matter if they were in a school building or learning remotely. Mental Health supports were recognized as an integral part of our summer “back to school” planning, and this has been instrumental in the successful engagement of students this fall. Ongoing content support, specific to social emotional development and school based mental health supports, have provided educators with practical and real time guidance in connecting with and addressing the needs of vulnerable students.
This fall, a free, preK-12 prevention curriculum was launched so that every Maine educator would have access to social-emotional learning to support their students. These materials are focused on developing resilience, compassion and self-advocacy skills, as well as regulating emotions and caring for one’s physical and emotional well-being.
At the DOE we will continue to hold student and staff mental health and wellbeing as one of our highest priorities, and as we move into the winter, we would like to again share these resources with you. As always, please feel free to reach out directly and thank you for all that you do to support Maine students, families, our communities and each other.