DASH Partner Update – May 2021

Division of Adolescent and School Health: Healthy Youth. Successful Futures.

Dear Partners,

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and DASH is joining with partners to promote youth mental health awareness all month. We will be highlighting the extent of the problem – that adolescent mental health was moving in the wrong direction before the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will likely be exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic – and also sharing how we can collectively support the health and well-being of young people.

As you know, DASH works with school districts to strengthen health education, increase students’ access to health services, and enhance safe and supportive learning environments. Over the last year, the school districts we fund, along with school districts across the country, have had to adapt their work to the pandemic while also doing their best to meet the needs of their students, including their mental health. Some districts quickly converted their GSA club meetings to virtual meetings to maintain connections for LGBTQ youth, while others incorporated social and emotional learning into their health education curricula and provided training for school staff on critical practices to serve today’s adolescents. These are just a few examples of how schools and school staff are adapting to changing circumstances. Follow along on Twitter and check out the resources below to learn more about work being done to support students, their families, and school staff.

Throughout the month of May, to bring attention to important issues and solutions around youth mental health, each week, our Twitter account (@CDC_DASH) will be focused around a different theme. This week, we are highlighting the importance of schools in promoting adolescent mental health. During the last two weeks of May, we will be highlighting the work that CDC, schools, and partners are doing around the country, and what we all can do to support youth.

May 1st-8th: The State of Adolescent Mental Health in the US
May 9th-15th: The Importance of Schools in Promoting Adolescent Mental Health
May 16th-22nd: What’s Working: What CDC, Partners, and Schools are Doing to Help Youth
May 23rd-31st: What You Can Do to Help

Please join us in lifting up the importance of addressing mental health among young people and share stories of how this work is being done through your various channels. Now is the time to invest in our youth, and together, we can provide all students with the support they need to thrive.


Kathleen A. Ethier, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What's New at CDC?
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Updates and Resources
  • CDC.gov Webpage on Racism and Health
    The CDC has declared racism a serious public health threat and released a new website “Racism and Health” that will serve as a hub for the agency’s efforts and a catalyst for greater education and dialogue around these critical issues.
  • Healthy Youth Website Updates
    • Safe and Supportive Environments: New web content on safe and supportive environments emphasizes aspects of the school environment that encourage students to be more engaged in their school life and feel more connected to important adults at school and at home.
    • Health Education: A new series of web pages highlights the importance of health education in schools, DASH’s approach to this work, and tools and training resources to support health education curriculum and instruction. Tools and training resources include a scope and sequence checklist and processing guide, pacing guide and unit planner, and classroom visitation form.
  • LGBTQ Inclusivity Self-Assessment Tool
    This self-assessment toolpdf icon provides a way for school staff to enhance supports for LGBTQ students by quickly assessing LGBTQ inclusivity across school environments. The tool, developed as a part of the Survey of Today’s Adolescent Relationships and Transitions (START) Project, also provides a collection of resources to help schools improve inclusivity after completing their assessments.
  • Toolkit for School-Based HIV/STD Prevention Communication Resources
    The School-Based HIV/STD Prevention Communication Resources Digital Toolkit can assist education agencies with a variety of communication needs related to school-based HIV/STD prevention. The toolkit includes communication resources to help develop a communication plan, create materials that follow health literacy best practices, promote events and programs, and much more.
DASH Around Town
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May 12: Dr. Kathleen Ethier will present on the U.S. Department of Education webinar, Lessons from the Field: How Schools and Districts Are Meeting the Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs of Students and Staff, on Wednesday, May 12 from 3:00-4:15 p.m. EST. The webinar will feature updates from key federal agencies and practical strategies from schools and districts engaged in supporting the social-emotional and mental health needs of students and staff as they continue to offer in-person instruction or return to full in-person instruction safely. Register hereexternal icon.

Updates from Partners
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  • The 2021 Mental Health Month Toolkit
    Join Mental Health America in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkitexternal icon materials and conducting awareness activities.
  • #SexEdForAll
    May is Sex Ed For All Month, an effort spearheaded by a national coalition of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations committed to ensuring equitable and accessible sex education for all young people nationwide. Join these organizations’ efforts to amplify Sex Ed for All Month with the help of this toolkitexternal icon and by using the hashtag #SexEdForAll.
  • Webinar Recording: Mental Health, Sex Positivity, and Youth in the Time of COVID-19
    Watch the recoding of an armchair discussionexternal icon with leading experts and thought leaders exploring the factors impacting youth mental health, sexual activity, and how sex positivity and comprehensive sex education can play a role in improving mental health for young people.
In the Field
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The School District of Philadelphia has launched a COVID-19 Adolescent Mental Health Training Academy to equip teachers and school staff with the tools they need to support students and their mental health following the disruption and collective trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The training includes six sessions which cover: trauma-informed care, grief and ambiguous loss, implicit bias, supporting LGBT+ students, and the importance of askable adults. So far, more than 300 teachers and school staff have received training, providing safer and more supportive learning environments during a critical time for more than 34,000 students.

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