Emotional Wellness

We recognize these uncertain times are taking a toll on each of us. Some days of learning at home last year felt like a breeze while other days may have felt physically and mentally exhausting.

As school reopening continues to forge ahead, we want you to know that you are not alone. DCPS is proud to offer parents, caregivers, students, and families, resources and tools to promote healing and well being. As a DCPS community, with an eye toward self-care and compassion we can truly #ReopenStrong.

The DCPS School Mental Health (SMH) Team supports school-based psychologists and social workers who provide supportive and therapeutic services to students and families who need assistance for any reason, from gaining access to practical resources to handling life-altering events. Our goal is to ensure that students are physically and psychologically safe and can fully participate in academic learning whether virtual or in-person.

On this page you can find information about how DCPS is supporting the emotional wellness of students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student Supports in Term 3

As schools are beginning to receive students, we want to ensure that our students know that we are available to them by providing a safe space for them to explore feelings associated with all that has transpired over the last year. We will visit classrooms both in-person and virtually to make sure that students know who we are and how to access us. We will also work with teachers to ensure that social-emotional learning is embedded into the curriculum.

Mental Health, Emotional Wellness and COVID-19

Students and families have endured many traumatic incidences while learning from home. Many are feeling overwhelmed, and DCPS is prioritizing how we respond to the needs of students and families.

Supporting Students through the Trauma-Responsive Schools Model

The Trauma-Responsive Schools (TRS) model recognizes the impact of trauma on child development and how relationships, routines, and healing-centered practices are the most impactful mitigation tools for toxic stress in so much as they foster resilience.

In our model we mandate and support schools to demonstrate five, non-negotiable healing-centered practices:

  1. Every teacher spends dedicated time with their classroom or homeroom students to build relational trust.
  2. Every student is greeted with positive and affirmative language daily and with each classroom transition.
  3. Every school teaches, models, and reinforces school-wide behavior expectations for students and adults.
  4. Every school provides opportunities and a designated space to practice emotional regulation.
  5. Every school should include opportunities for staff wellness.

Resources for Parents and Caregivers

Parents have had to deal with many competing, real life demands while simultaneously helping their students learn from home. It has not been easy. Parents are finding themselves having to manage their own emotions more than ever. We understand! You can watch replays of recent Parent University workshops on this topic.

The videos below include practical tips for some of the most common concerns shared with the School Mental Health Team.

Managing Your Stress

Managing Your Student’s Stress

Coping with Grief and Loss

What if my student needs additional supports?

Sometimes students respond more favorably in smaller groups or one-on-one. Your student may need additional help if he is anxious, sad, or demonstrating signs of distress. No worries. We are here to help. Just complete a referral form and share it with your school’s School Behavioral Health Coordinator (SBHC). If you do not know your school’s SBHC, feel free to email us at school.mentalhealth@k12.dc.gov and we can provide you with that information. Your student will be linked to a SMH provider or a clinician with one of our partners within 10 business days.

Additional resources for families from DCPS

External Resources for Families

Conscious Discipline implementation in the home. Click through the 12 areas of Shubert’s Home to find valuable resources that will help you build a foundation of safety, connection and problem-solving in your family’s home. 

Parenting amid COVID-19: Expert tips on how to help kids at home (USA Today) 

Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19 (National Association of School Psychologists) 

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the COVID-19 Pandemic (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network) 

Activities to Soothe Children’s Stress About COVID-19  

ABCs for parents of little ones (Conscious Discipline) 

Story Hand Activity (Conscious Discipline) 

How Practicing Mindfulness Outdoors Boosts Well-Being (Edutopia) 

A De-escalation Exercise for Upset Students (Edutopia) 


School based mental health providers are the first to respond to a crisis at a school. If the crisis requires additional resources, the school will contact The School Mental Health Team and we will deploy a crisis response team. We support students and schools both in-person and virtually. 

Who We Are

School psychologists and social workers have master’s degrees and are certified by OSSE in their respective areas of expertise, including screening and early intervention, direct clinical services, and assessment.

School Psychologists

School Psychologists identify and provide the necessary support for students to benefit from their educational program through:

  • Consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators to find effective solutions regarding problems in learning and behavior;
  • A wide variety of assessment techniques at an individual, group, and systems level to evaluate academic skills, learning aptitudes, emotional development, social skills, and eligibility for special education;
  • Intervention with children and families to help solve conflicts and problems in learning and adjustment;
  • Prevention by identifying potential learning difficulties; and,
  • Education and staff development.

Social Workers

Social Workers identify and provide the necessary support for students to benefit from their educational program through:

  • Targeted evidenced based interventions to promote mental health and school success;
  • Collaboration and consultation with other service providers, classroom staff and caregivers; and,
  • School-wide universal interventions to foster positive school adjustment and social emotional well-being.