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Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Supports

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, help is available. 

  • Call 911

  • Call, text, or chat 988 (the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline)

  • Text the Crisis Line (741741)

Life can be pretty hard sometimes for both adults and children. Below is some information on a variety of topics that impact social, emotional, and mental well-being. Sometimes people just need some information to know that they are not alone. But other times, people need help figuring out how to get through tough times.

Even if you are not sure what someone is dealing with, it may be helpful to talk through your concerns with a professional. The support staff at your child's school, your child's pediatrician, or a family doctor may be able to help you figure out the best way to support social, emotional, or mental health concerns that you or someone you know may be experiencing.

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MPS has a bullying policy, MPS Administrative Policy 8.52. The policy describes bullying as behavior (words or actions) done on purpose to cause fear or harm. Bullying may be repeated behavior. Bullying involves unequal power such as size, age, group size, or popularity. It is important to understand the definition of bullying to know how it is different from other kinds of aggression. Many instances of aggression between students are conflicts and not bullying.

To learn more about bullying, visit the MPS Bullying Prevention page.

  Digital/Online Safety

Internet, digital, online, or cyber safety or e-safety means trying to be safe on the Internet by being aware of personal safety and security risks. These risks include access to private information, risks to property associated with using the Internet, and computer crimes.

For more information about Internet safety, please visit the MPS Digital/Online Safety page.


Grief is a natural response to loss. This could be the loss of a loved one; however, grief can also be experienced after other losses, such as a divorce or breakup, loss of a job, death of a pet, or loss of feelings of safety following a traumatic experience. Grief can last for a short time or for a much longer time. With the right support system, people can navigate feelings of grief. Sometimes it is helpful to seek outside support when your grief feels like it is too much to bear.

For more information on grief support, please visit the MPS Grief page.

  Healthy Relationships and Teen Dating Violence

Healthy relationships are those with basic but essential elements: respect, communication, trust, boundaries, honesty, and equality. The absence of one or more of these elements can mean that a relationship is unhealthy or even abusive. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teen dating violence can include physical or sexual violence, psychological aggression, or stalking. The good news is that violence is preventable, and we can all help young people grow up violence-free.

For additional information on healthy relationships and teen dating violence, please visit the MPS Healthy Relationships and Teen Dating Violence site.

  Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex. All ages, genders, and races are at risk of being victimized. It is important to know signs of trafficking so that support can be provided as quickly as possible.

For additional information on human trafficking, please visit the MPS Human Trafficking page.

  Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. It can be hard to know what is going on inside someone's mind, though.

Visit the MPS Mental Health Information page to learn more about common mental health disorders and when to seek help.


What is mindfulness? In MPS, we define mindfulness as the "purposeful awareness of our thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and environment in the present moment, without judgment." Mindfulness is a research-based practice that has shown positive outcomes, including improved academic performance, improved academic task completion, reduction in externalizing behavior, decreased anxiety, increased pro-social behavior, improved self-efficacy, and increased persistence.

For more information, please visit the MPS Mindfulness page.

  Second Step

Second Step is a program published by the Committee for Children. It is a social and emotional learning program for students in pre-K through eighth grade. The goal of the Second Step program is to help students be successful in school. The Second Step program teaches social skills and self-regulation. All MPS K–5 and K–8 schools teach Second Step to all students.

To learn more about Second Step, please visit the MPS Second Step page.

  Self-Harm/Cutting (Nonsuicidal Self-Injury)

Self-injury or self-harm is any form of hurting oneself on purpose, often as a way to deal with painful emotions. The most commonly known type of self-harm is cutting. Other types of self-harm include 

• scratching,
• burning,
• hitting or punching oneself,
• picking at existing wounds.

For more information on self-injury or self-harm, visit the MPS Self-Harm page.

  Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the way in which all people gain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, form and keep good relationships, and make responsible choices.

Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker. Having strong SEL skills can reduce the chances of students engaging in risky behaviors. This is best done through teachers, parents, and community members working together.

For more information on social and emotional learning, please visit the MPS Social and Emotional Learning page.

  Suicide Prevention and Intervention

When helping a person who is going through a mental health crisis, it is important to look for warning signs of suicide, including the following:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings

Always seek emergency medical help if a person’s life is in immediate danger. If you have reason to believe someone may be suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.

Please view the MPS Suicide Prevention and Intervention page for more information.


Traumatic experiences can have a detrimental impact on a child's life, including his or her functioning in school. It is important for families to be aware of the warning signs of traumatization in their children so that they can intervene early before the experience(s) have a long-lasting effect.

Some examples of traumatic experiences common in childhood include the following:

• House fire
• Being bullied at school
• Witnessing gun violence in one's neighborhood
• Witnessing domestic abuse of a caregiver
• Sudden loss of a parent or close relative
• Incarceration of a parent or close relative
• Substance abuse of a caregiver
• Out-of-home placement (e.g., foster care)
• Physical and/or sexual abuse

Please visit the MPS Trauma-Sensitive Schools page for more information.


Family Matters Newletters

For support

Please contact the school social worker, school psychologist, or school counselor at your child's school.

School Psychologist and Social Worker Directory

Violence Prevention Program

6620 W. Capitol Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53216


Social and Emotional Learning Supervisor:

Kimberly Merath
Phone: 414-438-3593

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2023
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