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The literature indicates increasing evidence showing the benefits of classroom-based, universal preventive interventions for mental health and the link between social and emotional learning and academic performance. The FRIENDS program has been extensively tested and has showed promising results not only for preventing childhood anxiety, but also for improving students' self-concept, social skills and coping skills. However, when it comes to communities in disadvantage, the results are mixed, with some studies reporting the need to include enhancements to the context in which the program is implemented to better support communities at risk. A combined intervention aiming to promote students' social-emotional skills was piloted in a school located in a low socio-economic status area. Teachers received training to teach social and emotional skills for students and a resilience program for themselves. Students' social-emotional outcomes were assessed at pre, post, 3 and 6 months following the intervention. Results showed that the intervention helped students to decrease their anxiety, and the intervention was well accepted by participants.
Mental health among children and adolescents is a growing national concern and schools have taken center stage in efforts to prevent problems and promote wellness. Although research and policymakers support the integration of mental health services into the schools, there is limited agreement on the ways to package or combine existing supports to achieve prevention-oriented goals. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are 2 of the most widely adopted, evidence-based approaches that have been advocated to address student mental health. These universal prevention approaches, however, stem from different theoretical camps and are often advocated and implemented apart from one another. The purpose of this study was to examine the independent and combined effects of PBIS and SEL on student mental health outcomes. A quasi-randomized control design at the classroom level was used to make comparisons across 4 conditions: business-as-usual (BAU), PBIS alone, SEL alone, and COMBO condition with regard to their acceptability to teachers, integrity of program delivery, and student outcomes. As predicted, the COMBO condition produced significantly greater improvements in overall mental health and reductions in externalizing behaviors when compared to all other conditions. The results also indicated that the PBIS- and SEL-only conditions were both able to produce significant improvements in overall mental health functioning as compared with the BAU control. The implications of an integrated approach for school-based universal prevention and directions for future research are discussed.
Research has consistently linked social-emotional skills to important educational and life outcomes. Many children begin their school careers, however, without the requisite social and emotional skills that facilitate learning, which has prompted schools nationwide to adopt specific curricula to teach students the social-emotional skills that enable them to maintain optimal engagement in the learning process. Second Step® is one of the most widely disseminated social-emotional learning (SEL) programs; however, its newly revised version has never been empirically evaluated. The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized controlled trial investigating the impact of the 4th Edition Second Step® on social-behavioral outcomes over a 1-year period when combined with a brief training on proactive classroom management. Participants were kindergarten to 2nd grade students in 61 schools (321 teachers, 7300 students) across six school districts. Hierarchical models (time×condition) suggest that the program had few main effects from teacher-reported social and behavioral indices, with small effect sizes. The majority of significant findings were moderated effects, with 8 out of 11 outcome variables indicating the intervention-produced significant improvements in social-emotional competence and behavior for children who started the school year with skill deficits relative to their peers. All the significant findings were based on teacher-report data highlighting a need for replication using other informants and sources of data. Findings provide program validation and have implications for understanding the reach of SEL programs.