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Indiana School Mental Health Initiative

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University

  • Where is the best place to improve the social, emotional, and mental health of as many people as we possibly could? Answer: Our schools.
  • Stressed brains do not learn the same as brains that feel safe, feel connection, and can manage emotions.
  • Resilient school staff and students lead to resilient and thriving families, and communities.

Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., ISMHI Director
Christy Gauss, M.S.W., ISMHI Facilitator
(812) 855-6508

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refers to a set of traumatic experiences that many people face in childhood. This trauma can impact how children perform in the classroom as well as have lifelong adverse health effects.


Resiliency is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant stress. It is the counterbalance of trauma. Resilient school staff and students lead to resilient and thriving families, and communities.  

School Mental Health

Growth, learning and development in all domains happen in many environments and, for most of the population, in schools. Fostering mental health in schools leads to an environment that supports the development of the whole child and helps them grow into productive and successful adults.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel empathy for others, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Trauma, Stress, and Learning

For students, trauma is when a stressful event(s) has overwhelmed and compromised their health and welfare, including their ability to self-regulate and learn due to the fact that the stress load can impact thinking, behavior, and learning at every level.


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