Emotional Wellness

We recognize these uncertain times are taking a toll on each of us. Some days of learning feel like a breeze, while other days may feel physically and mentally exhausting. As another school year begins, 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.

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.

Mental Health Supports

Your student may need additional help if they are anxious, sad, or demonstrating signs of distress. 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 an SMH provider or a clinician with one of our partners within 10 business days.

Learn more about how DCPS is here for you by exploring the mental health resource guide for students and families below:

The DCPS School Mental Health Team partners with other providers to extend school-based mental health services to students at all
levels of need. The following listing is a starting point to help you identify the providers that are in your school (additional organizations
may be present in the schools).

Support in Times of Crisis

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. 

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 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 previous 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

Additional resources for families from DCPS

Activities to Soothe Children’s Stress or Anxiety  

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.