For Educators and Parents

If SEL Is So Important, Why Can’t It Fit Into a Regular School Day?

With student’s mental health struggles on the rise, students are depending on teachers to not just educate them on math or English, but anxiety management too, especially because research shows that students are more likely to seek counseling when services are available in schools.  Counselors, social workers and psychologists are doing their best to assist all students, but with a 500:1 national average ratio respectively, much of the job also falls onto the educators. 

For the first time in history, 7-year-olds are being seen in emergency departments for suicide attempts and self-harming behaviors.  The mental health crisis is here and social and emotional learning, SEL, can be just the tool to help.  None of you are alone, even though it may feel like you are.

Social and emotional learning is a methodology that helps students comprehend their emotions and exhibit empathy for others.  These teachings help students develop responsible decision making skills as well as build positive relationships with themselves and with others.  SEL programs range from character education topics such as friendships all the way to depression, self-esteem and suicide prevention. 

Not all SEL is created equal and time spent in a meaningful program is critical.  The challenge of fitting this into each school day can be mitigated by adding a period into each week.  If SEL were to have a dedicated time and place, students would have the ability to receive in-depth and intentional instruction.  With this time and privacy, students would have access to deeper thinking about future goals, motivation and personal mental health.  

Some schools say that they have their mental health teachings in check, however the majority are hanging on by a thread.  “Research clearly demonstrates the significant role of SEL in promoting the healthy development and academic achievement of all students. It also shows that SEL reduces problem behaviors and emotional distress that interfere with the learning and development of some students. Research also indicates that SEL programming significantly raises test scores while it lowers levels of emotional distress; disruptive behavior; and alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use.”   

Why is a subject that is so important, so difficult to implement into a school’s curriculum? 

There is a rising movement to embed SEL into core curricula.  Tom Joad from “The Grapes of Wrath” can be a prime talking point for conversations about resilience and forward thinking.  Geometry can be a concept akin to the importance of balance and middle ground.  These conversations are a good start, but what do we do when a student doesn’t want to speak out loud in front of their peers?  What if a student is suffering from more than a lack of “grit?”  Research shows that approximately 49% of K-12 students may face a mental health condition during their time in school.  This means that while the Tom Joad conversation is a nice one to have, it’s not getting to the core of what the 49% of students facing mental health conditions need to address. 

In a recent conversation with former United States Representative, Patrick Kennedy, he referenced a metaphor that he recently heard in which mental health was referred to as “the license necessary to drive the brain.”

We don’t receive adequate driver’s education by throwing in snippets about traffic signals during social studies or by discussing turning out of a skid in the middle of Shakespeare.  No, we create a space for this crucial topic because our kids’ lives depend on it.  With half of the K-12 students suffering from some type of mental illness and the other 50% needing to understand how to drive their own brains, how is tying in this type of license adequate enough in snippets?

Until education reform changes the mandates of everyday learning, snippets are all many of our students will get.  If you are in a position to change this and can be the gatekeeper for your students, you have more influence than you may realize.  We at BASE exist so you don’t have to do the work.  

While 10,000 hours is the measure to become an expert at something, one hour per week or two thirty-minute sessions behind the screen can begin to help increase your students’ engagement, academic success and can truly be a meaningful life-saver. We can’t prepare children for everything, but we have an obligation to do our very best.  

End of Year Spike in Heroin, Fentanyl, Pain Killers – in Everyone’s Backyard

What can you do about the it?

The BASE Solution


Stores are stocking their shelves for the holiday rush, and people are greasing the axles for the holiday spend.  Gearing up for the end of the year festivities is a customary part of American culture.  In line with the mad dash is the growing healthcare bottleneck of end-of-year medical procedures. 

The American healthcare system is one in which most plans have a deductible, the out of pocket spend that a person or family must meet before care is covered by the insurance plan.  Most people do not reach this deductible until the later months in the year.  Once this happens, it’s a mad dash to book procedures that can now be covered.

An area of receiving far too little attention, is that of the opioid spike at the end of the year.  In the United States, more than 142 million opioid prescriptions are written each year.  That’s 43.3 prescriptions per 100 persons.  Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medications that include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, among others, and have both benefits as well as potentially serious risks. However, too many Americans have been impacted by the serious harm associated with these medications, and despite ongoing efforts, the scope of the opioid crisis continues to grow.

Because opioids are so addictive, the propensity for misuse is extremely high.  People can become addicted even when following prescriber protocols.  When this happens, the process is painful and can be life-altering.  Not only does it happen to adults, but it’s happening in staggering numbers with our youth. Prescription medication overdoses among 12-24 year olds account for 1/4th of all drug-related ED visits.  As a result of the mad dash for insurance coverage, many of the prescriptions are being written at the end of the year.

How can educators help?

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3 Indicators That You’re in Need of an SEL Solution

Many school professionals have cited learning gaps, staff shortages, testing, and COVID-related issues as their many stressors that weigh heavily on a daily basis.  This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t include the very real pressure and responsibility of taking on student mental health challenges which continue to soar at epic proportions.

Most people admit that they expected the fall 2021 start to the school year to be closer to “normal” than it turned out to be.  If you’re barely getting by and your plate is full, rest assured, you’re not alone.

Many children’s hospitals have declared a state of emergency, seeing skyrocketing rates of self-injurious behaviors and suicide attempts.  Only two years ago, if a child under the age of 13 showed up in an emergency department for a suicide attempt, it was considered a rare event.  Today, children as young as seven years of age are attempting to take their own lives.  These wounded youngsters are walking through your doors and the need for mental health supports are paramount.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

State standards determine what SEL looks like in each state. Every state has comprehensive, free-standing standards for SEL with developmental benchmarks in preschool, however, just eight states have standards for SEL development for early elementary students and eight more expand their standards to K-12 grades.” 

This leaves blanks for teachers to fill as they grasp for resources. 

So how can you know when it’s time to implement social-emotional learning?

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Teacher ambivalence around SEL… Normal

When she went to graduate school to get her teaching degree, Tamara never imagined that she would be spending a good part of her career managing classroom-wide trauma.  “I spend an average of six hours per day in direct instruction.  Of those six hours, I probably spend at least two and a half hours having conversations with my students to break through barriers that are preventing them from learning.”

This phenomenon is all too common in classrooms worldwide.  Kids’ lives are complicated.  Anxiety, depression, and trauma are occuring in epic proportions.

The numbers are staggering, so what is a teacher to do?  Should they ignore the palpable distress in the classroom in favor of test scores or address the whole child?  Most educators will admit that getting through the basics of teaching is nearly impossible.  Students walk in the door carrying so much more than a backpack, this simply cannot be ignored.  Continue Reading

Why We Created BASE Education

Creating BASE Education for Social and Emotional Learning

BASE Education was created out of a need that was not being met in schools.  Nearly a decade ago, Social and Emotional Learning as it is widely known today, was not a mainstay in schools. I was a school-based therapist and private practice clinician and I needed meaningful and evidence-based content for my students.

With few options available, I created content that I hoped would be engaging as well as therapeutically sound.  Over time, the content was being used in neighboring schools, districts, and then across state lines.  Even though the reception of the content was positive, the paper-based curriculum was not scalable, but the demand was strong. 

Meanwhile, a student in a nearby school sat unattended in in-school suspension for bringing a gram of marijuana to school.  During the day, she sat and vilified herself and saw no way out of what she believed to be a life-altering event.  At the end of the first day, she went home and died by suicide.  

With no positive messaging or hope for a better outcome, she saw no way out.  

It was this precipitating event that pushed me to find a scalable solution- to ensure that no student would ever fall through the cracks or feel hopeless.

I connected with Mac Angell, a talented developer who had been building education technology platforms for years.

Together, we formed BASE Education, an online solution that was not only engaging, clinically sound, and innovative, but it also was an eye-opener for the adults in the schools.  BASE was and continues to be, the only fully online SEL program that allows for students to be heard.  Through this CASEL approved program, students have a voice and exercise their thoughts in a conversation as opposed to only one-way teaching.  It continues to be a privilege to hear their words and it is humbling to be allowed into their thoughts, it’s what keeps us going each and every day.  Being a part of a solution is something we will never take for granted.

Students today are digital natives and BASE is able to meet them where they are for comfort, safety, and empowerment.  When students are in charge of their personal journey, it’s meaningful and engaging.

The BASE team of today is comprised of educators and clinicians.  Through decades of experience, students and teachers alike have the highest quality of content and support.  Whether the delivery is online or in traditional lesson plans, BASE aims to welcome and empower all.

Social and Emotional Learning was once known as “mental health” in schools.  BASE has never veered from its origin of wellness at its core and seeks to make mental health something that everyone can and does, talk about.

Is Your School Ready To Go Back To School and Support Student’s Mental Health Mid-Pandemic?

Teenage girl needing support with mental health

Most of the globe is still reeling from COVID as society tries to find some semblance of normal.  Families, businesses, and education were sent to the brink of chaos and the return to “normal” has not been easy.  Among those greatly impacted were our children.  They watched silently in isolation from friends and school, and they were deprived of security and consistency, the cornerstones of healthy development.  While we have yet to see the true impact on student learning, we are already seeing alarming statistics on the toll this time period had on their mental health. 

More than ever, educators are tasked with not only teaching their students, but they also play a large role in vigilance and support of their mental health.  It’s all hands on deck as we strive to attenuate the impacts of COVID which are compounded by normal developmental angst.  Following are just a few early statistics indicating the enhanced need for educators to focus on the mental health of their students.

  • Teen suicides are project to increase post pandemic
Source: APA report
  • Emergency dept visits due to mental health in children 12-17yrs of age increased by 31% and were 50.6% higher in girls year over year
Source: March Ed Week Report and June 18 CDC MMWReport
  • There was a dramatic increase year over year for the number of students who have at least one major depressive disorder (MDE) or a severe major depressive disorder 
Source: ’20 MHA report to the ’21 MHA report 
  • Anxiety and depression rates rose dramatically and were most pronounced in young people, with 82.88% of those who took an anxiety screening scoring moderate to severe and 90.2% of those who took a depression screen scoring moderate to severe 
Source: Next Step’s State of Mental Health in America 2021 

It’s a tall order.  Most educators are not mental health professionals.  Talking about suicide, anxiety, depression, or even self-esteem can be intimidating.  Many teachers report having a sense of foreboding due to the severity of the topic and their desire to not incur harm if they say the wrong thing.  Districts are clamoring for solutions to assist with the rising mental health needs and to foster a positive school climate. Your role in student wellness is and will continue to be essential.  If mental health is not second nature, how will you address these issues in your student body? You lead by example and you have what it takes to impact your students- whether you realize it or not.  Having a partner to guide you can make all the difference.  Instead of focusing on what to say or how to say it, having a competent partner means that you can focus on being present. We’re in this together.  At BASE Education, our goal is for you to feel confident in your personalized approach to student wellness. Through an innovative online approach and familiar lesson plans, BASE is accessible and easy for everyone.  ….

BASE is a clinically derived solution that was built to take on the hard stuff so you don’t have to. 


Originally posted on ELearning Inside on February 3rd, 2021.

With social and emotional needs on the rise and the methods of incorporation low or inconsistent, how can families provide the skills needed to foster emotional learning at home? Here are some tips for adults and caregivers.

The college experience is based on just that–experience. Students learn to become independent and manage their time, and fend for themselves. Their interactions with their professors, faculty, and new peers, play a critical role in their academic and social growth. These interactions help them grow into adults, form bonds, and further establish a path for their later lives. In the absence of these rites of passage, college in 2021 feels to many like a string of missed opportunities.
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How to Help Your Kids’ Emotional Development During a Pandemic

Originally posted on Family Education on February 3rd, 2021.

With social and emotional needs on the rise and the methods of incorporation low or inconsistent, how can families provide the skills needed to foster emotional learning at home? Here are some tips for adults and caregivers.

Kids worldwide aren’t just missing out on birthdays and social events, they’re also missing key developmental experiences. With social interactions at an all-time low, kids have less exposure to their friends, teachers, and in some cases, their loved ones, including parents.

Most skills for social and emotional learning are now taught in schools, but during the pandemic, a time when kids need it most, teachers and administrators are striving to provide the basics of core academics. Educators are being faced with many challenges including online and hybrid models, accessing struggling students, and locating students who are simply missing from school altogether.

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Helping Teens Open Up About Their Mental Health

Originally posted on eSchool News on November 26th, 2020.

Using the right approach, along with an SEL program, could help teenagers become more transparent with their mental health

Despite what kids believe, their main support system is not within their friendships. As a parent or counselor, you can allow them to believe their friends are their support providers. However, their fellow 14-year-old friends are not equipped with the maturity and understanding to help them with the big problems. Kids need a sounding board–a connection with their family to help them with feelings of depression, anxiety, fear of failure, and other related concerns.

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