With the start of the 2020-21 school year, social emotional learning (SEL) and the topic of mental health are more important than ever for both students and educators.

While Erika’s Lighthouse primarily offers classroom-based programs focusing on depression education, we have adapted to the needs of our school partners this year, have widened our net and built a program to address general mental health and help-seeking for students during these unprecedented times. We now have programs and suggestions for incorporating our materials into remote learning environments or into traditional classroom settings, still at no cost.

Because the need for quality mental health education is high, Erika’s Lighthouse encourages schools to consider utilizing multiple SEL and mental health education programs that will best fit the needs of their school population.

Second Step is one of the largest SEL programs in the country for early childhood, elementary and middle schools and they have recently released their suggested implementation guidelines for this school year. Erika’s Lighthouse agrees with and supports their plan. Their middle school program includes 4 units with several lessons within each unit; Unit 3 focuses on “Thoughts, Emotions, & Decisions: Students learn how to recognize strong emotions and unhelpful thoughts, and apply strategies to manage their emotions and reduce stress.” After Unit 3 of Second Step, your students have a better grasp on thoughts, emotions and decision making.

If you utilize the Second Step program, we hope you will consider incorporating Erika’s Lighthouse programming to supplement your existing SEL lessons with middle schoolers. Erika’s Lighthouse resources fit well after Lesson 19 in Unit 3 of the Second Step program to further advance discussions around mental health, depression and help-seeking.

If teaching remotely, take a look at the newly-created remote program by Erika’s Lighthouse – We All Have Mental Health: A Program for Middle & High School Remote Learners. This program is built as one 45-minute lesson, but can also be broken down into three parts. The primary pieces in this program are Promoting Good Mental Health, Everyday Feelings vs. Overwhelming Feelings, and Finding Help & Information. This program supplements Unit 3 of the Second Step program and will reinforce students’ ability to recognize uncomfortable feelings and thoughts and help them continue to learn how to manage their emotions and stress in healthy ways.

If teaching in a hybrid or in-school environment, you might consider incorporating some of the lessons from The Erika’s Lighthouse Program for Middle School: Depression Awareness for Middle School Students. Lesson 3 in particular helps students work on building good mental health strategies and taking time to identify tools that help them in stressful situations.

Erika’s Lighthouse very much respects what Second Step offers schools across the county and feels that our programming can be seamlessly integrated alongside their middle school materials to provide an even more robust learning experience for students during these uncertain times.

Create an account on our Resource Portal to access the Erika’s Lighthouse program materials and lessons at no cost.