Supporting School Wellness Toolkit

The Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory identified that mental health needs in young people continue to rise. Though increases in distress symptoms are common during disasters, most people cope well and do not go on to develop mental health disorders. Resiliency can be learned and developed, especially with home, school and community supports, which will help people do hard things later in life.

For students, these mental health needs can go unsupported and lead to behaviors that are inconsistent with school expectations. It is important students and staff know that it is okay to ask for help and be ready to respond to those who need additional support. Providing school-based mental health supports and safe learning environments help students improve their overall well-being, allowing them to thrive.

Ohio’s educators and students have shown an incredible amount of resilience despite ongoing changes and concerns. This toolkit provides teachers, administrators, students and families and communities with support to assist in responding to challenges that effect mental health. Click on the boxes below to find a collection of resources and recommendations, organized by audience type, to address current student and staff wellness challenges.  


Teachers continue to support students while trying to stay physically, mentally and emotionally well. The following are practical resources and tools teachers can use to support student behavior through relationship building, self-regulation and trauma-informed practices. Teachers should also continue to practice self-care and seek additional support when needed.  

Relationship Building

Student Calming and Focusing Strategies

Staff Self-Care

Trauma Informed Practices

Classroom Management

  • Use de-escalation and emotional regulation strategies when students are experiencing big emotions.
  • Practice maintaining a “low and slow” voice volume and pitch.
  • Use reflective statements to convey understanding.
    • Example: “You are feeling frustrated with being told to complete the math problems before you have tablet time.”

Know When to Refer for Services

Resources for Teachers

  • Trauma Informed Schools: Trauma Informed Schools are sensitive to the needs of individuals who have experienced trauma.
  • Trauma Informed, Resilience-Oriented Schools Toolkit: The toolkit provides tools, videos, professional development slide decks, and concise instruction to explain the concepts of trauma and toxic stress, offers strategies for addressing trauma and fostering and offers strategies to assess the impact of these adaptations throughout the school community.
  • Support for Teachers: The Role of Mindfulness: Teachers can address stress in their lives, both at school and at home, by practicing mindfulness.
  • Child Mind Institute: Age-appropriate videos which teach students key skills related to mental health and emotions. Each video comes with skill sheets that summarize and reinforce key ideas.

School Administrators

School administrators are facing increased incidents of student behavioral challenges and staffing shortages.

The following are practical resources and tools school administrators can use to implement multi-tiered systems of support to create safe, trauma-informed schools and to develop an environment that promotes staff wellness.

Evidence-Based Programs

Strengthen Tiered Supports

Trauma-Informed Practices and Policies

Professional Development

Relationship Building

  • Promote parental engagement through resource sharing, newsletters, or workshops about mental health and well-being.
  • Increase opportunities for connection between staff during the school day. Allow time for and encourage staff collaboration and cooperation.
  • Promote collaboration at staff or team meetings through a shared agenda and opportunities for staff to reflect or share with peers.

Staff Support and Mentorship

  • Develop a support group or mentoring program to allow teachers to receive peer-support. Allow groups time for real-time problem solving.
  • Become familiar with Secondary Traumatic Stress and develop a response for your building.
  • Support school wide practices to combat stress.
  • Promote wellness events or groups for staff such as: yoga, walking groups, recipe swaps or a social event for staff engagement.  
  • Create a physical staff wellness space in your building.
  • Acknowledge and address grief or trauma experienced by staff.

Resources for School Administrators

District Administrators

Districts administrators are working to provide additional supports to meet the need of schools, educators and students. The pandemic has created new challenges in meeting the needs of school buildings, school personnel and students.

The following are practical resources and tools district administrators can use to create new partnerships to increase support services and improve student health and wellness.

Create Partnerships

Staff Mental Health Support

Student Mental Health Supports

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Health

  • Support social and emotional learning strategies in the district.
  • Use data to find locations where behavioral needs require additional support.
  • Create strong district-family partnerships to leverage families’ expertise and diversity.

Trauma-Informed Practices and Policies

Resources for District Administrators

  • Trauma Informed, Resilience-Oriented Schools Toolkit: The toolkit provides tools, videos, professional development slide decks, and concise instruction to explain the concepts of trauma and toxic stress, offers strategies for addressing trauma and fostering and offers strategies to assess the impact of these adaptations throughout the school community.
  • Community Partnership Toolkit: The Ohio Department of Education’s Local Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit is a great starting point for developing, sustaining, and engaging local stakeholders and community partners in whole child work.  
  • Mental Health Toolkit: The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion provides background, tools and resources to help employers learn more about mental health and cultivate a welcoming and supportive work environment.
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for Administrators: A state example of recommendations for aligning social and emotional learning and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

Students and Families

Students and families may find these resources and tools helpful as students adjust to changes. Below are ideas for families to support their student's wellness.

Help Manage Intense Feelings and Build Social Skills

Stay Connected

  • Help build upon positive childhood experiences: encourage your child to talk about feelings or how their day was, support child during difficult times, facilitate relationships with other trusted adults outside of your family, discuss and emphasize family traditions.​
  • Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats to stay socially connected. ​
  • Maintain communication with your child’s teacher around needs, concerns and progress

Maintain Healthy Habits

Seek Help

Resources for Students and Families


Community organizations play a critical role in supporting the mental health of children and young people by providing programming and supports and working to create safe, stable, and nurturing environments children and youth need to thrive. Children and young people themselves can also take action to protect, improve and advocate for their mental health.

While different community organizations may address different community problems, serve various youth populations and may implement different solutions, all community organizations can use the following recommendations:

Educate the public about the importance of mental health and reduce negative stereotypes, bias and stigma around mental illness.

  • Create open dialogue about mental health and correct misconceptions and biases.
  • Partner with trusted messengers such as youth-led programs, faith leaders and behavioral health professionals to speak to community members about youth mental health needs.
  • Address misconceptions in key community stakeholder groups that have outside influence over young people such as educators, faith leaders and the media.

Implement evidence-based programs that promote healthy development, support youth and their families, increase protective factors and increase their resilience.

  • Youth-led programming, mentoring and afterschool programs.
  • Skill-based parenting and family relationship programs.
  • Evidence-based programs designed to prevent substance use/misuse, suicide, violence and other mental, emotional and behavior problems.
  • Community coalition efforts addressing substance use/misuse, suicide, depression/anxiety, violence and social determinants of health.

Ensure that programs are rigorously evaluate mental health related outcomes

  • Track outcomes around anxiety, depression, and suicide, as well as upstream risk and protective factors such as social connectedness and coping skills.

Address the unique mental health needs of at-risk youth.

  • Youth-serving organizations should be intentional about how and to whom program services are offered.
  • Actively recruit and engage populations who have historically been prevented form equal access to opportunities and services.
  • Engage with youth to understand what unique barriers may prevent them from accessing services.
  • Recruit program staff directly from communities being served.
  • Build program staff capacity to recognize personal biases and structural challenges in these communities.

Elevate the voices of children, young people and their families.

  • Engage youth in community-based mental health efforts
  • Gather feedback from youth and families involved in programming to understand what is and isn’t working.

Resources for Communities

  • Ohio CareLine (1-800-720-9616): The Ohio CareLine is a toll-free emotional support call services developed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  Behavioral health professionals' staff the CareLine 24 hours a day, 7 days/week.  They offer confidential support in times of personal or family crisis when individuals may be struggling to cope with challenges in their lives.  
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “4hope” to 741-741 to be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor.  The Crisis Text Line is a free, confidential service available 24/7 via text on mobile devices.  The Crisis Text Line is free, and the number will not appear on a phone bill with the mobile service provider.
  • Be Present Ohio: The Be Present Ohio campaign provides support content for parents and caregivers. The message “Your Presences is a Present” - let youth know how much you care.
  • With You Here: Life is Better With You Here provides resources and supports for African American middle and high school age and young adults.
  • Sources of Strength Ohio: Sources of Strength is a comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention but impacts other issues such as substance abuse, bullying and violence. Sources of Strength is available for elementary and secondary grades and can be implemented in schools or community settings.
  • Know!: An educational program that empowers parents and teachers to promote health and wellness and protect the young people in lives from unhealthy behaviors.  Know! Provides ongoing, timely, and relevant information about the latest trends in behavioral health and substance misuse prevention with an eye towards how parents and teachers can use the information to support young people.
  • On Our Sleeves: Created by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, On Our Sleeves is a free educational resource to start conversations, educate families, and boost mental health and wellness. On Our Sleeves works to break stigmas and educate families and advocates about children’s mental health by providing all families access to free, evidence-based educational recourses and supports access by connecting families to trusted local resources.
  • Ohio Adult Allies: The Ohio Adult Allies is a diverse network of adults who are committed to advancing the work of youth-led programs by working alongside young people to create change in their communities.
  • Ohio Youth Led Prevention Network: OYLPN is a network of youth-led substance misuse prevention providers and youth across the state who are committed to the cornerstones of youth-led prevention, peer prevention, positive youth development, and community service. The network provides needed support for the student, school, and parent organizations, and can connect you with other like-minded groups in addition to providing resources, training, and more.
  • Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory: This Advisory offers recommendations for supporting the mental health of children, adolescents, and young adults.

Last Modified: 8/16/2022 5:17:52 PM