Building Resilience in Schools through Social and Emotional Learning

Authored by: Oanh K. Tran , Barbara A. Gueldner , Douglas Smith

Handbook of Positive Psychology in Schools

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415621854
eBook ISBN: 9780203106525
Adobe ISBN: 9781136258398


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In a time in which children and youth are pressured toward academic standards and high-stakes testing while being exposed to a variety of risk factors (e.g., poverty, harsh parenting, single-parent homes), the risk for mental distress increases. Research suggests that an estimated 20% of students display mental health problems (Myers & Holland, 2000); that is, 4 million children in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2010). Sadly, 75 to 80% do not receive appropriate services (Greenberg et al., 2003). If mental health needs are left untreated, symptoms and needs intensify, thus requiring more intensive resources—which schools are already lacking. Unfortunately, schools are often unprepared to respond effectively to the increasing mental health needs of students. Without adequate supports, students are vulnerable for other comorbid disorders. Additionally, these youths often engage in multiple high-risk behaviors that impede their ability and potential for school and life success. Although the challenges for today’s children and youth may be daunting, schools can play a critical role in building resilient behaviors and skills to enhance healthy coping skills, social and emotional development, school achievement, and long-term health and productivity.

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