Kenwood Engages in SEL Strategies to Address Rising Mental Health Concerns


SEL Core Competencies Social emotional learning

Tabatha Miles and Ariel Simmons

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month although mental health should be a concern all year around and is a current concern across our nation and with today’s youth.

The rate of teenage depression and suicide has been on the rise. According to Time “Between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%.”  NBC News reports that, “Three prominent children’s health organizations declared that child and adolescent mental health had become a national emergency.”

Understanding adolescent mental health can be confusing to the adolescent themselves and their parent. Sophomore Adedayo Adedeji shares, “I do not agree with parents saying teens have no reason to be depressed because depression is a disorder of the brain , and teens go through things that their parents don’t know about. Saying that they ​are not depressed will invalidate their experience with how they are feeling.”

Parent Elizabeth Wright feels all parents should take mental health concerns seriously. “It’s easy as parents to think that because they’re teenagers, they don’t have a lot to worry about or go through things but that’s not true. Being a teenager is not easy because you’re transitioning from being a child to an adult, and life can smack you in the face and throw all these things at you. It can be a lot to handle. Mental health is a real thing and every parent should be there if their children come to them about that.”

In response to the rising mental health concerns, Baltimore County Public Schools launched their SEL initiative  in providing mental health resources to school weekly and promoting the “KINDESS MATTERS CAMPAGIN” Which addresses different monthly themes around Mental Health.

SEL is social emotional learning helps a child understand and control their emotions and build positive relationships.  Kenwood is very active in trying to help teachers and students manage their mental health with SEL strategies. Kenwood school counselor Mr. Grubka emails staff every Friday with mental health resources and activities. He adds, ” These can then either be shared or posted by teachers at their discretion.”

Some of the other things Kenwood does to encourage taking care of our mental health is post positive messages around the school. Kenwood’s Graphics department prints mental health messages to hang in the hallways. Kenwood’s School Counselors also deliver over 150 classroom lessons at Kenwood across all four grade levels, in which mental health topics are discussed and resources identified. Kenwood’s ELA 10 classes constructed a whole unit around mental health.

In the fall Baltimore County Public Schools also decided to add three half days to the school calendar for  mental health breaks for students and staff. Kenwood’s Mr. Powell and other administrators like to be present in the halls between classes too to  interact with children and teachers and help anyone who looks and seems like they may need someone to talk to.

Kenwood school counselor Mr. Grubka adds, “Measuring improved mental health in a school building can be done by looking at some correlations that might exist. Some examples could be: improved attendance, improved grades, decrease in student referrals can sometimes be used as a measure of overall behavior improvement.”

If students are struggling with their mental heath they can go into the school counsel​ing office to make an appointment to talk to a counselor.  ​Checking in with their school counselor can be as normal as seeing your doctor for a medical issue.   There are also resources available for concern of abuse and/or suicide.

Here are a few local resources:

United Way: 211

Crisis text line: Text the word “HOME” to 741741 for free 24 hour support

Maryland Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 1.800.422.0009

Baltimore County DSS: 410.887.TIME

Baltimore County Crisis Response: 410.931.2214

The Trevor Project:  1.866.488.7386 or text START to 678678

Maryland Food Bank: 410.737.8282


Be sure to check out our past articles on mental health:

Classroom Instruction Brings Mental Health Awareness to Students

Marital Arts Mental Health Benefits

Recognizing and Helping Youth with Mental Health

Coping Strategies to Help Manage Stress

Recognizing World Suicide Prevention Day