Well-being has been defined by many researchers, each having different definitions. In general, most of the authors based on Well-being, the valuation of an individual’s life satisfaction. This may involve reflection on the positive and the negatives of one life conditions. Well-being in schools is crucial because it enables the students to perform well both academically and emotionally. Having a balanced emotion is a significant factor among the students (Rabenu et al., 2016). Psychological capacity has a positive relationship with well-being, and individuals with more resources have more positive emotions compared to those with fewer resources. These resources are helpful as they form a crucial ingredient of well-being. Most of the students who have an issue with their well-being usually have problems that may extend into other areas.
Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) usually have problems in school and at home. This makes it difficult for these students to have friends because of their inability to self-control. Some students have difficulties in conversation, comprehending social cues, having immaturity when speaking, having difficulty seeking attention, and completing tasks, which make it crucial to identify a sustainable intervention for their condition (Powell et al., 2018). It is significant to identify a necessary intervention that includes the general student population as making them part of the intervention help in solving future problems as well as increasing awareness of mental problems.
Positive Mental Health through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Many studies investigate positive psychology and its significance in enhancing well-being among children and adolescents. These include positive emotions such as goal setting, gratitude, character strengths, and hope (Shoshani & Steinmetz, 2013). These four factors have been significantly associated with subjective well-being among the youths. Furthermore, several interventions have been identified to promote the above factors, improve well-being, and lower mental symptoms in the general population. Some interventions targeted specific positive emotions that were more consistently related to well-being, such as gratitude and hope. One example is a short-term gratitude intervention study conducted by Froh et al. (2008), which examined the effects of a grateful outlook on middle school students’ subjective well-being. Froh et al. (2008) found that adolescents, who participated in daily gratitude exercises that involved listing five things they are grateful for, reported increased levels of subjective well-being three weeks after the intervention. In addition, a significant relationship was found between gratitude and satisfaction with school experience in the immediate post-test and a 3-week follow-up period.
In 2003 at Strath Haven High School, a positive psychology intervention was implemented. It involved 352 students where more than 25 lessons were taught regarding the positive psychology concepts (Froh et al., 2008). The target of the curriculum was to promote a sense of purpose, character strength, positive emotions, meaning, and resilience. The finding of the study showed an improvement in self-control and empathy. However, this study did not show a significant improvement in depression and anxiety.
Green et al. (2007) conducted a study to investigate the effects of positive psychology. The researcher conducted a randomized controlled experiment where ten trained teachers were allocated as teacher coaches to 56 students whom they met for ten sessions in two different schools. The research study had a significant outcome as the students showed notable improvement in hardness and hope. Furthermore, the students had reduced depression and anxiety. Another study was conducted at Geelong Grammar school in Australia, where the coaching period was four years involving more than 250 staff members. The coaches were trained on positive psychology’s primary skills, such as flow, positive relationships, character strength, gratitude, and meaning (Williams, 2011). Positive psychology was implemented in various school grades, and after some time, the students showed a significant change in mental well-being.
The study conducted by marques et al. (2011) focused on hope-based intervention, which involved students from a public school in Portugal. The main focus of the intervention was on mental health, life satisfaction, hope, academic achievements, self-worth, and hope. The program was conducted for more than five weeks in a group setting. The post-test result shows that the group subjected to the intervention had a significant level of life satisfaction, hope, and self-worth. The outcome was maintained for more than 18 months after the intervention period. The programs of positive interventions have been incorporated in numerous schools with positive results. In the United Kingdom, Jenny Fox-Eades has various strength-based programs that encourage both teachers and students to use character strengths. These strengths are done through the community celebrations cycle and stories incorporated into the school curriculum. Celebrating strength has a significant impact on students as it enables them to develop self-esteem and improve their well-being. Furthermore, many schools are also implementing well-being school-based programs that enhance positive psychology (White & Kern, 2018). The main element included is positive relationships, physical health, engagement, meaning, perspective, and purpose.
In Australia, there are various positive psychology interventions that have been piloted in high school and elementary. Such a program is Bounce back, which involves adding positive psychology principles with core principles into the literacy curriculum (Green et al., 2012). Another program is Knox Grammar school, where the teachers were recruited into a three-year training on positive psychology that aimed at providing strength and knowledge-based skills that will enhance a positive school climate. The coaching strategies are also significant in that they are used together with positive psychology to help individual students with mental problems such as ADHD to attain academic and personal goals, thereby promoting well-being.
From the study conducted at St. Peter’s College in Adelaide, students have significantly gained from the positive education. This incorporates students with mental problems and those without the condition. The well-being data was beneficial as it enabled the school to identify the relationship between academic mastery and character strength. This allows the school to change its educational culture to cater to the mental problem (White & Kern, 2018). The students’ views regarding mental well-being show that they are satisfied with the positive education that promotes their school experience. Many students understood the importance of resilience and well-being, involving themselves and others. They also perceived positive education as a significant factor that helps them build a good relationship with family, friends, and the community. The students at risk benefitted maximum as it enables them to do well in academics, social, and family roles. Previously, the student had behavioral problems, mental imbalance, and poor academic performance (White & Kern, 2018). Focusing on well-being has promoted their overall performance. Furthermore, the students who had lower performance were also among the top students who benefited significantly from the positive program.
Social and emotional learning is described as the process of obtaining and application of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to manage emotions through the set up of positive and attainable goals. It also includes appreciating other people’s perspectives and maintaining positive relationships. SEL follows collaborative social and emotional learning (CASEL) (Dowling & Barry, 2020). It uses five strategies: self-management, relationship management, self-awareness, decision-making, and social awareness.
This involves the use of gratitude diaries where the students used to record their intense positive experiences. The diary can also be used to record and count the blessing that has been given in a week or month. The significance of these diaries is that they drive positive emotions among the students (Shoshani & Steinmetz, 2013). The value in action strength inventory can also be used instead of the diary where the students record their strengths differently every day for one week. This showed that the students who completed these tests had positive emotions and were less depressed.
This program was set up by Nina Bajaj, which focuses on mindfulness. It is identified as paying attention so that it is non–judgmental and present. The program uses the available models, such as the two-component and RAIN approaches (Hayes et al., 2019). This program involves mindful exercise mainly on breathing and other activities based on emotions, sensations, and thoughts. These activities are categorized into three; those that reflect on the world, those that reflect on the body, and those that reflect on the mind. Teacher training on the mindful program takes half a day, and they are given the mindfulness manual with more than 21 distinct activities. Furthermore, the manual has other interactive online games and suggestions. The mindfulness program is delivered in the classroom, and it takes about five minutes every day. It is important the program is done for a year to enable the students to develop positive attitudes.
The program involves relaxation exercises that focus on progressive relaxation of muscles and deep breathing. The program has more than 20 primary and secondary schools (Hayes et al., 2019). These program is delivered the same way as a mindful program, as it takes about five minutes every school day.
Integrating SEL in Schools
International evidence supports the endorsement of positive mental health programs in schools. The main challenge that impacts this program is the school routine, as there is a competition for space in the curricula, which involves time allocation on the programs (Barry et al., 2017). The program faces the challenge of being perceived as insignificant compared to the traditional subjects. This makes the programs have minimum time allocations and limited support, leading to its failure. SEL was introduced to the British curriculum to promote positive mental health, thereby creating a safe and inclusive environment for all the school children.
The school curriculum has to integrate the program similar to other subjects. This involves integrating the support from the parents and the trained teachers. It is important to note that the integrated approach for the program requires consistency, the realization of the system operation of school and classroom, and the realization of the link between academic, social, and emotional skills. Furthermore, it is also important to note that emotional skills cultivate based on relationships. These are the main principles that guide social, emotional, and academic skills into school operations. It is also necessary that the mission of these programs be integrated into the school system (Barry et al., 2017). Implementation of this program using a whole-school approach provides a sustainable program that brings about change at all levels. This includes at individual, classroom, school, and community level. It is crucial to note that the evaluations of the school-based approaches on the SEL are very minimal because most studies have focused on classroom-based programs. Furthermore, the school-based programs are complex to evaluate. However, school management and leadership have a significant role in ensuring that the program gets the necessary support.
The SEL can be included in the education system via approaches that enhance the students’ capacity in emotion, thinking, and behavior that enable them to face daily challenges. The program focuses on teaching the students particular skills that help them strive well in school and classroom culture. The program also involves training the teaching staff to enable them to become competent with the program (Greenberg et al., 2017). Self-awareness is understanding one’s goals, principles, and emotions. This involves evaluating strengths and weaknesses, a fixed mindset on growth in that anything can be attained through hard work and optimism. One has to assess thoughts and the connection of events or actions to achieve a high level of self-awareness. It also includes the understanding of other people’s culture and being passionate. Social norms are also crucial as they enable one to recognize oneself regarding family, school, and community.
The relationship skills are significant as they enable the students to have a healthy relationship with their peers and other people as per social norms. Relationship skills require cooperating, conflict resolution and negotiation, active listening, handling pressure, and communicating clearly. Responsible decision-making entails productive choices on personal behavior, skills, social interactions, and attitudes (Greenberg et al., 2017). The competency in this skill requires ethical standards, norms that guide risky behavior, safety, and taking into consideration the well-being of others.
The SEL programs have a significant impact when implemented strategically. They substantially affect the students’ lives both in the long term and short term since their outcomes are positive and long-lasting. The programs are significant in promoting confidence among the children and enhancing their school engagement in both grades and test scores. Furthermore, they help reduce behavioral problems, encouraging good behavior (Greenberg et al., 2017). The program’s long-term outcome includes social and emotional competency among the students as it prepares them for college, careers, engaged citizens, and good mental health. This benefit shows that the program is significant for school health programs as it promotes the well-being of the general population.
Social and emotional skills are crucial as they help young people solve significant problems as they grow. Furthermore, age transition requires being masked from risky behavior and mental health problems (Weare, 2017). The program is directly related to learning, hence reducing the chance of one being involved with criminal activities because of the mental strengths acquired. These factors ensure that well-being is also attained in adulthood. Additionally, these skills help the students to be confident, making them able to engage in activities that seem difficult. Durlak et al. (2011) postulate that The SEL program significantly impacts students’ attitudes concerning themselves, others, and the school. Furthermore it is crucial to lowering internalizing problems as the program promotes communication, cognition behavior, and emotion. Teachers’ skills are also necessary for the implementation of the program. Therefore, it is essential to include the teachers in the program training for effective delivery. The program has proven to be successful at all levels of education. Furthermore, the program is also successful in urban, peri-urban, and rural.
Evaluation and Recommendation
From Liz’s case study, it is vital to include Social and emotional learning integrated with positive mental health to enable Liz to strive well in school without fear of being victimized and perceived as weak. Furthermore, this program is essential in helping fellow students understand Liz’s case as well-being for students in general. The following are why the program should be incorporated into the school. First, it enhances the emotional health of students, and the students can talk about their problems freely. Their mental health is assessed at school, enabling them to grow positively. The students usually feel safe whenever they speak about bees troubling them and with people who can listen to them.
Second, it promotes teamwork as the students can gain confidence in class. This enables them to interact freely with their peer since they understand vital competencies. Third, it promotes academic success, which is geared by their ability to organize their thoughts and understand their emotions. This facilitates their concentration in class, enabling them to focus on their study effectively. Fourth, it enhances the students’ decision-making skills, and students can learn key strategies that will allow them to make critical decisions that are significant in their lives. The program prepares them to face challenges such as pressure and equips them with hard choices. Fifth, it promotes the students’ attitude and behavior; SEL enables them to improve their interpersonal skills and interaction with their students. This allows them to drop certain behaviors that are associated with emotional problems. The program is significant in reducing cases such as bullying and enhancing students’ well-being in school. This enables students like Liz to solve social and academic problems. Furthermore, the program involves all the students in school, hence promoting the relationship between them and their peers who have mental health problems.
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