For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Jodi Weber, Assistant Executive Director - Seeds of Health, Inc.
Integrated Mental Health Model Practiced at Seeds of Health Schools Proves Beneficial to Students’ Mental and Emotional Well-Being
MILWAUKEE (December 22, 2020) – Caring for our youth and their mental and emotional well-being is likely more crucial now during a global pandemic than it has ever been. Beginning two years ago, Milwaukee’s Seeds of Health (SOH) Schools has made tangible strides toward improving the inner lives of their students and supporting them through this traumatic time.
SOH has been implementing what they call an ‘integrated mental health model’ into all four of its high schools and its elementary school. Through this model, described as less of a curriculum and more of a philosophy, SOH teachers and staff are trained to recognize and interact with students under a ‘trauma sensitive schools’ framework.
‘Trauma sensitive schools’ is a perspective that acknowledges the prevalence of traumatic experiences in students’ lives, is mindful of re-traumatization, and ultimately provides support and sensitivity to the unique needs of individual students.
SOH Assistant Executive Director Jodi Weber is a certified ‘trauma sensitive schools’ trainer and explains that teachers incorporate its methods into their classrooms in a variety of ways. “You may see teachers using tools such as creating quiet corners for students to take breaks, allowing several short breaks instead of long ones, incorporating social emotional learning activities, or allowing movement or even fidgets for kids that need it.”
“It’s a shift in mind set, really,” Weber continues. “Teachers rethink the way they set up their classrooms, how they talk to students, how they work with kids that have emotional triggers, and overall, in the way they view their students.”
Weber provides an example of how a teacher with ‘trauma sensitive schools’ training may enter an interaction with a student. “They might originally think ‘oh, that student is acting out just to get attention,’ but if we take the time to figure out why the student is acting out, we might learn that they are acting out because a topic discussed reminded the student of a traumatic time they experienced in the past. Uncovering that trigger, the teacher can be prepared to avoid it in the future, whether it be the topic altogether or the tone of voice used or something else.”
And has SOH seen any improvements in the well-being of its student body? Yes. Weber mentions that students have responded positively to the new focus, noting a reduction in behavior problems and out-of-class referrals.
The integrated mental health model also includes a partnership between SOH and SaintA, a community provider specializing in school-based mental health. The partnership was piloted during the 2019-2020 school year at Seeds of Health Elementary and has now expanded to the SOH high schools. Therapists from SaintA are available to students and their families and function as an outpatient clinic via appointments at SOH school locations, providing support with issues on anything from anxiety or grief to self-esteem and relationships.
Seeds of Health is grateful to its generous donors – Bader Philanthropies, The Charles E. Kubly Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR) Youth Foundation, and Dorothy Inbusch Foundation – who have supported the initiation and expansion of this mental health programming in SOH schools.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in four high schools and a K4-8 elementary program. The five individual and unique education programs serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “home grown” answer to imaginative, collaborative and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.