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Social emotional learning and student mental health

It’s estimated that as many as one in five students experience mental health concerns in any given year(1). These concerns can include things such as anxiety, depression, and behavior disorders.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated mental and behavioral health concerns in students(2). Students had fewer in person interactions with their peers which led to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation(3). In addition to the impact on students’ mental and behavioral health, their academic engagement and achievement suffered, too(4)

SEL is not a mental health intervention. However, school-based SEL programs can proactively support and promote students’ mental, social, and emotional well-being(5). Using a strength-based tool like the Aperture System’s DESSA connects educators with data to identify students’ skills so that mental health professionals can use that information to inform interventions and support plans. Additionally, social and emotional learning helps students build skills for stronger friendships, manage strong emotions, and think positively about the future(6).  

There is no quick fix, building students’ mental well-being takes time. Working intentionally with students on mental well-being through developing social and emotional skills can prevent problems from getting worse. 

Early screening and assessment with Aperture Education’s DESSA offers a proactive way to identify your students’ social and emotional strengths and needs. Our strengths-based approach helps you build students’ social and emotional skills, which both protect them from developing mental, emotional, and behavioral problems and promotes their well-being.

Continue Supporting Well-Being in Your District

Download our Guidance on Using the DESSA in Mental Health Screening and Assessment white paper to learn more on how Aperture Education can help your students thrive.

Download the DESSA/Mental Health Screening White Paper

Take the next steps in your sel Journey

Aperture Education is ready to help you create a quality SEL program that delivers unparalleled results to its students and teachers. We invite you to learn more about the DESSA and the Educator Social-Emotional Reflection and Training (EdSERT). Complete the form to start a conversation with our SEL experts today!

About Aperture Education

Aperture Education has empowered over 8,000 schools and out-of-school time programs across North America to measure, strengthen, and support social and emotional competence in K-12 youth and educators. The Aperture System includes the DESSA suite of strength-based assessments, CASEL™-aligned intervention strategies, and robust reporting, all in one easy-to-use digital platform. This system enables education leaders to make strategic, data-based decisions about SEL within their organizations. Aperture has supported more than one million students in their social and emotional growth and continues to develop innovative solutions to bring the whole child into focus. To learn more, visit

(1) Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. (2022). Improving children’s behavioral health.

(2) Bradshaw, C. P., Kush, J. M., Braun, S. S., & Kohler, E. A. (2023). The Perceived Effects of the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Focus on Educators’ Perceptions of the Negative Effects on Educator Stress and Student Well-Being. School Psychology Review, 1–14.

(3) Di Malta, G., Bond, J., Conroy, D., Smith, K., & Moller, N. (2022). Distance education students’ mental health, connectedness and academic performance during COVID-19: A mixed-methods study. Distance Education, 43(1), 97–118. 

(4) Hammerstein, S., König, C., Dreisörner, T., & Frey, A. (2021). Effects of COVID-19-related school closures on student achievement-A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 746289. 

(5) Cipriano, C. (2020). Supporting School Community Wellness with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) During and After a Pandemic. 

(6) Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2023). SEL and mental health.,buffer%20against%20mental%20health%20risks.