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Social Emotional Learning

Schools have a unique opportunity to positively influence students through educating, role modeling, and creating healthy and supportive learning environments. Building positive mental health in school environments involves addressing the basic psychological or positive mental health needs of students, staff and other members of the school community.

What Works?

Positive mental health for school aged children and youth is best achieved through building Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. SEL is “the process of acquiring core competencies to:

  • recognise and manage emotions,
  • set and achieve positive goals,
  • appreciate the perspectives of others,
  • establish and maintain positive relationships,
  • make responsible decisions,
  • and handle interpersonal situations constructively” (Elias et al., 1997).

SEL programs help children of all age’s master age-appropriate social and emotional skills through a variety of approaches (GUYN Cooper Research Associates, 2013).

Common Social Emotional Learning skills taught in schools include:

  • Self-esteem, self confidence
  • Empathy
  • Resilience
  • Emotional regulation, emotional literacy
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem solving
  • Coping and stress management
  • Social awareness

Outcomes of SEL programs include:

  • Improved social and emotional skills
  • Self-esteem
  • Academic performance
  • Resilience and coping skills
  • Social development
  • Reduced emotional distress, depression, anxiety,  aggression, violence, and bullying


Resources to support implementation can be found in the Healthy Schools Programs and Services Guide. Educators may also contact their School’s Public Health Nurse for additional support and consultation.