Home > News > Calling All Providers! Let’s Help #GaKidsSpeakUp


By Jessica Woltjen, Outreach Manager

Children’s Mental Health Day is coming up on May 5th and we are calling on you to help #GaKidsSpeakUp! As an out-of-school time provider, you are much more than just a babysitter. You are a mentor, an advocate, a role model, a teacher, and so much more. You can and should play a critical role in supporting the social, emotional, and behavioral health of the youth in your program.

Effective out-of-school time programs should promote the healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth, recognize when young people are at risk for or are experiencing mental health problem, and identify how to intervene early and appropriately when there are problems.

Here are some steps to help you support the mental health of the youth in your program:

1) Recognize the Warning Signs

Consult with the child’s counselor, teachers, and parents if you observe one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Drastic changes in the child’s behavior or personality
  • Seriously trying to harm oneself, or making plans to do so
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
  • Severe out-of-control behavior that can hurt oneself or others
  • Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to make oneself lose weight
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Noticeable changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Marked change in academic performance

2) Have a Plan

You can support the mental health of all students in your program by:

  • Knowing how to access crisis support and other mental health services
  • Educating other staff members, parents, AND youth on recognizing the warning signs of mental illness
  • Making sure youth have a place to go if they need help
  • Promoting social and emotional well-being
  • Providing a positive, safe environment
  • Encouraging good physical health

3) Learn More

Below are some resources to support the social, emotional, and behavioral health of the youth in your program:

1) Assessing Self-Regulation: A Guide for Out-of-School Time Program Practitioners, Child Trends

2) Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators, National Child Traumatic Stress Network

3) Effective Practices to Cultivate Social and Emotional Learning, Afterschool Alliance

4) Social and Emotional Learning Practices: A Self-Reflection Tool for Afterschool Staff, American Institutes for Research

5) Assessing Stress in Children and Youth: A Guide for Out-of-School Time Program Practitioners, Child Trends



The information in this blog post was largely based off of information from the American Psychiatric Foundation and mentalhealth.gov