Unlocking the Power of Social-Emotional Learning for Youth Mental Health

Oct 2

In a world where young minds face unprecedented pressures and challenges, nurturing their mental health and emotional well-being is paramount. The facts are startling. We hope to shed light on the reality of the problem, and offer solutions and provide community resources to combat this pervasive and complex issue.

October is a month with several dedications to promoting Mental Health Awareness; it is a time to acknowledge the significance of mental health and explore effective strategies for supporting our youth. One such strategy that has gained remarkable recognition in recent years is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

Have you heard of it?

It isn't just a buzzword

Social-Emotional Learning is more than just a buzzword; it's a transformative approach that has the potential to revolutionize the way we support youth mental health. SEL programs - such as those offered by the YESS Institute - have demonstrated impacts on student outcomes both behaviorally and academically.

YESS SEL programs impacted it's students between 2016-2019:

The Youth Mental Health Crisis

What do you know about youth mental health?

Fact 1:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five youth in the United States experiences a severe mental disorder in their lifetime. These issues can include anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders, among others[1].

Fact 2: The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. A report by Mental Health America reveals that between January 2020 and September 2021, the number of youth (ages 11-17) reporting frequent thoughts of suicide or self-harm increased by 98.8%[2].

The Role of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

In our current bio-social landscape of increasing mental health challenges, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) emerges as a beacon of hope. SEL programs are designed to equip students with the necessary skills to understand and manage their emotions, build healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions. By integrating SEL into the educational curriculum, we offer young individuals a toolkit to navigate life's complexities.

Fact 3: Numerous studies have shown the profound impact of SEL on youth mental health. A meta-analysis found that students who participated in SEL programs demonstrated improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, and behavior, as well as a significant reduction in emotional distress[3].

Fact 4: SEL doesn't just benefit emotional well-being; it also enhances academic performance. Researchers have found that schools implementing SEL programs report higher student academic achievement in math and ELA, increased graduation rates, and better classroom behavior[4].

Empowering Youth through SEL

The power of SEL lies in its ability to provide young minds with essential life skills, which are not only invaluable for academic success but also for maintaining emotional resilience in the face of adversity.

Fact 5: SEL fosters empathy, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness. It empowers students to recognize and manage their emotions, ultimately helping them navigate the challenges of adolescence and beyond[5].

Ready to empower youth through SEL? Discover how YESS Institute's programs can make a difference.

Beyond the Classroom: SEL and Academic Success

Fact 6: SEL enhances student engagement. A report by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) found that schools implementing SEL programs saw improved classroom behavior and attitudes towards school, leading to better overall academic performance[6].

Fact 7: SEL is not a distraction from academic learning; it's a catalyst for it. SEL helps students develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making prowess[7]. 

Discover how the YESS Classroom Model integrates SEL seamlessly into the educational journey, fostering both academic excellence and emotional intelligence.

Supporting Youth Mental Health: Resources for All

As we conclude our exploration of the profound impact of Social-Emotional Learning on youth mental health, we want to provide you with valuable resources to further this critical conversation.

Mental Health Resources:
Colorado Behavioral Health Administration
 is a hub for many mental health resources in Colorado, for both youth and adults. Explore their website to learn more about the available programs.

If you are experiencing a crisis, please call 9-1-1 (or 9-8-8 which is a Suicide & Crisis Lifeline) or reach out to Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting TALK to 38255.

Connect with YESS today to learn how we can bring Social-Emotional Learning programs to your community.


1. National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). "Mental Health Information: Statistics." Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml.
2. Mental Health America. (2021). "The State of Mental Health in America 2022." Retrieved from https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america.
3. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). "The Impact of Enhancing Students' Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions." Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.
4. Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). "Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School‐Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta‐Analysis of Follow‐Up Effects." Child Development, 88(4), 1156-1171.
5. Weissberg, R. P., Durlak, J. A., Domitrovich, C. E., & Gullotta, T. P. (Eds.). (2015). "Social and Emotional Learning: Past, Present, and Future." Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning: Research and Practice, 3-19.
6. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2017). "2017 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs - Middle and High School Edition." Retrieved from https://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-casel-guide.pdf.
7. Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Frey, K. S., Greenberg, M. T., Haynes, N. M., ... & Shriver, T. P. (1997). "Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators." ASCD.