Volume 2, Issue 6 | May 2022
HeartMind e-News: Teach, Learn, Lead
A monthly publication dedicated to trauma-informed, compassionate school practices that help educators, students, and families move toward a sense of wholeness and well-being
Culture, Cultural Competence, Teen Suicide, and Friendships
As educators we have many opportunities to enhance the sense of self-worth and well-being of the youth we teach. In the first article this month, Sophia Coco addresses cultural concerns related to teen suicides, suggesting ways that staff can further emotional well-being. This is especially critical for youth who may have experienced discrimination, prejudice, historical trauma, or have lacked culturally appropriate mental health services. Precious Elam, in the second article describes a heart centered approach to cultural competence and cultural humility, reminding us that we must address implicit bias that has led to unequal treatment such as harsher punishment for Black males. And in the third article, Leah Bullinger focuses on friendships, with suggestions for teachers, counselors, and other school staff.
Featured Articles
Welcome to HeartMind e-News, dedicated to translating research and theory to practice, to aid implementation of compassionate practices in schools. Each issue has practical suggestions for teachers, researchers, school administrators, educational policymakers, mental health providers, students, and families. You are also invited to join the HeartMind Community to receive discounts on publications and workshops, networking opportunities, and special offers for virtual consultations and additional resources from the Center for Educational Improvement.
Cultural Sensitivity and Teen Suicide Prevention
Sophia Coco, CEI Intern
In a public health advisory in December of 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a rare warning on the youth mental health crisis, calling the crisis “devastating.” Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people. Although suicide can affect all, certain groups have been impacted more than others, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, LGBTQ individuals, and those in the child welfare system. Research has shown that LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to seriously consider suicide, to make a plan for suicide, and to attempt suicide than their peers. Additionally, a 2019 study found that suicide attempts have steadily increased among Black high school students in the last 25 years. 

A variety of risk factors increase an individual’s potential to develop suicidal ideation and engage in suicidal behaviors. Discrimination, prejudice, limited culturally-appropriate mental health service access, and historical trauma all contribute to an increased risk of suicide for youth. A student with depression, who may confront bullying in the classroom due to their skin color or background, and then encounters prejudices and biases from a psychiatrist is experiencing a variety of risk factors that are likely to further hurt their mental health.

On the other hand, protective factors can make suicidal ideation and behaviors less likely, provide sources of support and promote beneficial connections...

Why Culturally Competent Teaching Matters: Tips on How to Prepare Teachers in Supporting Students from Diverse Backgrounds
Precious Elam, CEI Intern
Currently in the U.S., more than 60% of students in the public school system identify as racially and ethnically diverse (Cherng & Davis, 2019, Marks & Coll, 2018). Trends predict student diversity will only continue to increase at steadfast rates, yet teacher and administrator diversity rates are not growing at the same rate. This can create a disconnect in the classroom, especially if there is no understanding of the cultural differences present, the needs of the students, and the appropriate tools required to effectively bridge the gap between diverse cultures (Cherng & Davis, 2019). When teachers differ racially from the background of their students, they can fail to understand how culture has shaped their students' experiences. Knowledge to overcome this disconnect is essential - and interventions, trainings, or workshops provide ways for teachers to learn about culture, race, and bias, in order to better understand and support their students... Read more.

The Importance of Positive Friendships for Children
Leah Bullinger, CEI Intern, and Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director
Throughout human history, the concept of positive friendship has been held in high esteem in education, philosophy, and psychology alike. Good friendships are important for many reasons, as they can play a significant role in creating relational happiness, preventing mental health crises, and supporting physical wellness. Simply put, when children feel confident in their relationships, they feel better about themselves. This sentiment is echoed in a 2018 child study by McDonough et al. through the statement: “Peer acceptance and friendship are important contributors to socioemotional development… and are associated with positive self-perceptions” (McDonough et al., 2018). Through these kinds of positive self-perceptions, personal well-being and overall health can rise. Because of this, the intrinsic value of positive friendships often matters more than external rewards of accolades or benefits...Read more.

Upcoming Events and Announcements

Virtual Self Care for Teachers and Other School Staff!

The sessions, offered by CEI, are designed for teachers, teacher assistants, counselors, psychologists, social workers, administrators, and mental health staff working in and with schools.

Here are your options:
·    Yoga classes for educators. Wednesday mornings 7:15- 8:00 am
·    Other time options: Yoga classes (45 minutes) or meditation classes (30 minutes).
Let us know your preferred time.
Send your questions or time preferences and contact information to info@edimprovement.org
Attend 5 sessions and receive CEI's Certificate of Participation.

Teen Suicide Peer Support Webinars

May 12, at 10 am, or May 18, at 7 pm. 

Receive our complimentary eBook on Teen-to-Teen Peer Support.

Register by May 10 and receive a coupon for a 20% discount on our book Compassionate School Practices.

We wrote about Teen Suicide and the Importance of Peer Support Groups

"Number of Weapons in SC Schools Doubles in Three Years, a Post and Courier Analysis Shows"

"With many students back in classrooms for in-person learning, Dr. Christine Mason sees this time ultimately as an opportunity to ask what we can do to make education better overall. Changes need to involve all school leaders though, not just a single classroom."
Dr. Mason was recently interviewed for an article on school violence.
Read the article by Maura Turcotte published in the Post and Courier here.
Cultivating Resilience: A Whole Community Approach for Alleviating Trauma in Schools

CEI's latest book is now available as a free e-book!

Available Now:

Cultivating Happiness, a new book by Dr. Christine Mason, Jeffrey Donald, Krishna Kaur Khalsa, Michele M. Rivers Murphy, and Valerie Brown.

Here's what readers are saying:

"Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement represents an immense contribution to the field. Beginning with research findings, the authors anticipate and address virtually every what, why, how, who, when, and where question that educators, parents, and the public may have about the book’s subject. Their goal is nothing less than to provide blueprints for an education that truly serves the needs of students and teachers in today’s troubled times. They have succeeded!"

Richard Brady
Author of Walking the Teacher’s Path with Mindfulness and Founder of the Mindfulness in Education Network
"This generously comprehensive manual will open new doors for any educator hoping to share best practices in introducing yoga and mindfulness to their students and schools. Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement fills an important gap in well-being in education work, reminding us of the crucial importance of paying attention to the body, mind, and heart when working with young people. Well-being is increasingly taking center stage in educational redesign initiatives, and the authors rightly emphasize the importance of teachers establishing their own awareness before setting out on this rich and rewarding journey with their students. With this valuable book by their side, teachers will be equipped with a wide range of practical self-care tools and approaches to bring greater well-being to themselves and their community."

Kevin Hawkins and Amy Burke

Learn more about Dr. Mason’s recent and upcoming books and availability on her website www.christine-mason.com