By: Melinda Espinoza
- This Research in Brief blog is part of the School Mental Health series highlighting work and resources for mental health professionals.
- This brief originated from the Virginia Partnership for School Mental Health (VPSMH) project, which partners with VA school divisions and institutions of higher education to expand support for school mental health services.
- This brief summarizes research on a mindfulness and social–emotional learning intervention that was delivered by counselors.
This article explores the effectiveness of a counselor-led early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) intervention and its impact on the lived experiences of a small group of early childhood educators. The intervention consisted of 12 weeks of one-on-one counselor-teacher consultation using social emotional learning and mindfulness-based interventions. There was also a mindfulness intervention group-consultation component with the teacher participants. Participants reported feeling an increased ability to handle classroom related stressors while also experiencing changes in their beliefs towards themselves as educators and individuals. These beliefs extended beyond the classroom as participants also reported changes in their personal lives.
- Work-related stress and lack of support can limit educators’ ability to be healthy and effective.
- School counselors are able to supplement and promote mental health care for other educators.
- Promoting mindfulness habits and emotional regulation skills, counselors can not only support fellow educators’ well-being but also positively impact students.
- This study was conducted in urban schools with student populations consisting mostly of students from minoritized and low-income backgrounds.
- Teacher participants largely identified as part of minoritized groups as well.
- Participants (teachers) were provided with consultation on culturally-responsive practices.
- Mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to positively enhance inter-educator relationships. Educators may use the skills they learn to inform interactions with other colleagues.
- Mindfulness skills helped participants learn to cope with and address workplace conflict.
- Consultation influenced by mindfulness allows the educator to receive some mental health support while developing goals and problem-solving from a new approach.
- Mindfulness practices helped teachers increase their self-awareness which allowed for changes in beliefs about teaching behaviors and in their personal lives.
Palacios, A. F., & Lemberger, T. M. E. (2019). A counselor‐delivered mindfulness and social–emotional learning intervention for early childhood educators. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 58(3), 184–203. https://doi.org/10.1002/johc.12119
Author Bio: Melinda Espinoza is a graduate student in the Counselor Education program at the University of Virginia, pursuing the School Mental Health emphasis offered to trainees through the Virginia Partnership for School Mental Health. Trainees in this emphasis complete additional coursework and field experience requirements that prepare them to take on leadership roles in addressing the mental health needs of students in K-12 schools.