Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs

Many children and students struggle with mental health challenges that impact their full access to and participation in learning, and these challenges are often misunderstood and can lead to behaviors that are inconsistent with school or program expectations. The COVID-19 global pandemic intensified these challenges, accelerating the need to provide school-based mental health support and leverage our accumulated knowledge about how to provide nurturing educational environments to meet the needs of our nation’s youth.

This report from the U.S. Department of Education provides focused information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and social and emotional well-being among students. It highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings, and presents seven corresponding recommendations:


  1. Rising Mental Health Needs and Disparities Among Children and Student Groups
  2. Perceived Stigma is a Barrier to Access
  3. Ineffective Implementation of Practices
  4. Fragmented Delivery Systems
  5. Policy and Funding Gaps
  6. Gaps in Professional Development and Support
  7. Lack of Access to Usable Data to Guide Implementation Decisions


  1. Prioritize Wellness for Each and Every Child, Student, Educator, and Provider 
  2. Enhance Mental Health Literacy and Reduce Stigma and Other Barriers to Access 
  3. Implement Continuum of Evidence-Based Prevention Practices 
  4. Establish an Integrated Framework of Educational, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral-Health Support for All 
  5. Leverage Policy and Funding 
  6. Enhance Workforce Capacity 
  7. Use Data for Decision Making to Promote Equitable Implementation and Outcomes
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Topic Areas

Mental Health

Crisis Timeline

Prevention Planning


Mental Health Professionals, School Personnel

Publications, Reports