Taking a Mindful Approach to Promote Teacher and Student Mental Health

Portland Public Schools, Oregon

Portland Public Schools, with support from CDC, is promoting mental health by providing mindfulness education classes to both students and staff.

To address mental health concerns in their school district, Portland Public Schools partnered with the nonprofit organization, Peace in Schools (PINS) to provide a mindfulness elective class in nine of the district’s 14 high schools. Research has shown that mindfulness practices can reduce stress and anxiety, which negatively impact mental health.

The class takes an equitable, trauma-informed approach to help students develop coping and social-emotional skills and build a sense of connection with peers. Portland Public Schools is also addressing teacher stress and wellness by offering PINS’ eight-week mindfulness training for teachers. In the course, teachers learn stress management and trauma-informed practices for teaching and connecting with their students.

A group of school administration in a meeting

Portland Public Schools has provided the training to more than 120 teachers, counselors, social workers, and school administrators across the district.

Through these combined efforts for both students and teachers, Portland Public Schools is providing more than 800 students with the tools and safe and supportive environments to begin healing from the stresses and detrimental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to put into words but this class helped me be myself more, accept that I am a work in progress, and I am doing the best I can. It has seriously helped my mental health so much and learning to practice unconditional love and non-judgement towards myself has literally changed my life.”

– Cleveland High, 10th Grade Student.