Mental health awareness integrated in Milwaukee classrooms

This has been a tough year for students. There is so much stress both in and out of the classroom.

However, some students are finding their best relief -- is inside their school.

Taking a few deep breaths and a moment to be still. Meditation is working wonders. 

Just one of the positives coming out of the "Integrated Mental Health Model" which Jodi Weber, assistant executive director of Seeds of Health, says is more a philosophy and less of a curriculum. 

"It's really a shift for our teachers and it's creating a faith-caring environment for our students who realize they've had traumas on different levels and some things will surface at schools," Weber said.

Jodi Weber

Weber who says the model which is used at the Milwaukee Seeds of Health schools looks at the unique needs of individual students and provides support and sensitivity.

"Really looking at kids differently, not what’s wrong with the child, but what happened with this child? Are there emotional triggers? Is this why this child is behaving like this, is there something we can do differently next times to keep the child calm and working and in the classroom?" she said.

Incorporating flexible seating and much more.

"Instead of taking one 15 minute break, take 30-second stretch breaks. Kids can have fidgets, if you have a kid who needs to stand up, it's ok to stand up, doodling is ok, we have calming corners," she said.

While classes used to look like this, COVID-19 has not only altered the learning environment but sometimes mental health. 

"The needs are out there, kids are struggling, staff struggling, kids are isolated," Weber said.

Part of the model also allows, for now, two full time on site therapists.

"It’s allowing kids to be better kids, and kids to be better learners," she said.

The program is also being offered virtually. 

School leaders say the Integrated Mental Health Model has reduced referrals and they are seeing kids be more engaged for a longer period of time which is increasing their academic skills.


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