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This information is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. You may also call 1-800-662-4357 to reach the National Helpline.

1. ACEs
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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) appear in many forms and can affect brain development, behavior, and learning. They convey life-long implications for health. Childhood trauma is not something you just “get over” as you grow up. The repeated stress of abuse, neglect, and family members struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. These effects unfold across a lifetime, exposing those who have experienced high levels of trauma to the risk of chronic physical health issues, depression, and other mental health struggles.


  • Articulate the importance of ACEs in the lives of students and families.

  • Demonstrate use of the ACEs Questionnaire to determine personal ACEs scores.

  • Identify appropriate resources to connect providers to local referrals for mental/emotional/ physical health issues.

2. Trauma
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The concept of trauma is defined is an experience, threat, or witnessing of physical harm that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that individual trauma “is a result from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening, and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.’”


  • Describe the core principles of trauma and trauma-informed care.

  • Define trauma in its various forms: acute, chronic, and complex and describe their impact on the brain.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of both risk and protective factors

  • Emphasize the impact of positive relationships.

3. Resilience
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Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threat, or overwhelming amounts of stress. Adversity can include family and relationship problems, serious health problems, workplace/financial stressors, or unanticipated tragedy. While resilience does involve “bouncing back”, it is important to realize that someone who experiences a traumatic event will not retain all of the same outlooks and opinions after that experience. However, that change can actually be seen as growth—moving forward and creating a better fit. When focusing on improving mental health and wellness, learning resilience skills is extremely important in order to create a life within which one can grow and improve in the midst of life’s challenges. The foundational principles of resilience—relationships, self-care, self-awareness, purpose, and mindfulness—all offer that opportunity for personal growth.


  • Define the ability of brains to adapt and grow even in the face of adversity.

  • Recognize the role of resilience and associated skills in coping with and healing from stress and trauma-related effects.

  • Assess personal resilience and find opportunities for growth.

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4. Self-Care


This module is the only one that focuses solely on educators. Self-care is the collection of strategies used to prevent or alleviate the symptoms of vicarious (secondary) trauma and promote personal well-being. Educators and advocates of young people must acknowledge they cannot effectively support students in healthy development if they cannot model healthy habits in their own lives. Neglecting oneself can make one vulnerable to collateral stress that can lead to increased anxiety, distraction, fatigue, anger, or depression that severely hampers the ability to meet the needs of students.


  • Differentiate concepts of self-care, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue.

  • Show the signs associated with compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.

  • Learn strategies and personal priorities to develop and support a work/life balance.

  • Explore self-care strategies and develop a personal self-care plan.

5. Mindfulness
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Mindfulness is the practice of self-regulating one’s attention “with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance,” to calm and soothe by shifting focus away from the effects of a stressor to the present moment. Trauma can be present in anyone’s life, but for many students and indirectly, their educators, that stress can be multiplied in a number of areas ranging from family issues, community violence, poverty, poor physical or mental health, and cultural or language barriers. Like any skill, mindfulness takes practice. It is important to encourage students with the reminder that often the only thing standing between us and our goals is a little bit of practice. Mindfulness also includes the effort of not taking things for granted and returning one’s focus to the present moment again and again.


  • Demonstrate an ability to practice mindfulness in your own life to develop the skills to communicate it to others.

  • Increase your ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, and anxiety.

  • Teach a variety of strategies to achieve personal wellbeing.

6. Trauma-Informed Best Practices
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Once educators understand the breadth and depth of the effects of trauma on the lives of students, they understand the need for trauma-informed support practices. These practices are honed specifically to address the way people affected by trauma react to learning. Knowledge of right- and left-brain activity applies to trauma-informed care in that teachers and school staff must understand that a person affected by trauma initially reacts and operates from the right brain. They are often not able to think logically and understand consequences. With a focus on mental health and wellness, educators should have basic knowledge about how a nurturing relationship and environment can improve the extent and strength of connections in a student’s brain, leading to a greater ability to overcome.


  • Understand right- and left-brain functions and their relation to trauma.

  • Learn evidence-based strategies for trauma-informed support for children and young adults.

  • Explore strategies for students who may be seeking help, either from their personal support systems or from qualified professionals.

7. Cultural Responsiveness
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Cultural responsiveness means being aware that cultural differences and similarities exist and understanding how those differences may markedly influence reactions to different issues. In particular this module highlights how different cultures may view mental health issues and how educators can address issues like stigma and misunderstanding in the Latin community and other cultures as well.


  • Understand educator’s personal cultural lens and explore different types of cultural diversity.

  • Identify the barriers to addressing mental health in different cultural communities.

  • Develop culturally responsive practices (awareness and competence).

8. Suicide Prevention
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Every year thousands of individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. Research shows that one in 10 Americans have thought about suicide. It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for people 35-54. In the era of Covid-19, it is more important than ever that we are there for each other, and that together, we take steps to prevent suicide. You do not have to be a mental health professional to make a difference; just one conversation can save a life.


  • Learn to understand suicide, its warning signs, risk factors and action steps you can take to take to save lives.  

  • Learn strategies to start conversations about suicide.

  • Know resources to support prevention efforts.

  • Ensure that you and your staff are comfortable, competent, and well prepared to recognize, respond, and manage suicide risk.

9. Responsible Decision-Making
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Making decisions is something everyone must do every day, and yet many young people lack the skills needed to make sure every decision is a good one. Human brains are wired to react long before they have the skill sets to respond to all that is happening. Helping students develop the ability to make good decisions is imperative.


  • Understand the five CASEL Social Emotional Learning Competencies.  

  • Identify skill sets that can help young people effectively navigate their world.

  • Help students develop responsible decision-making skills and processes that will allow them to analyze options and make good decisions for themselves and others.

  • Learn how you as an educator can encourage and support young people in making responsible decisions.

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