During stressful times, students look to and rely on adults for direction, stability, and caring reassurance (Johnson, 1998). This support is needed not only for times of extreme crisis, but more importantly for the daily challenges of maintaining a safe and nurturing environment conducive to learning. Providing this support in the form of emotional first aid is an often overlooked aspect of working with children and youth in school settings.
This book is designed to assist all adults, including mental health professionals, teachers, and staff, in providing emotional first aid for students. We present basic intervention skills—how to react, what to say, and what to do—as well as information, strategies, and resources on a wide variety of crisis intervention topics. We also offer ideas for staff inservice training with the goal of preparing all adults to better meet the emotional needs of students.
Over the past decade, the challenge of meeting children's mental health needs, including crisis intervention, has increasingly become the responsibility of school-based mental health professionals (Brock, Sandoval, & Lewis, 2001; Johnson, 2000). In order to increase the availability of services for children, professionals are encouraged to meet the needs of children and families “where they are” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).
The pressure to provide emotional support within public schools comes from a variety of political, societal, and individual family factors. First and foremost, school is where children and adolescents receive the bulk of mental health care: 75% of mental health