Increasing mental health outcomes in rural Alaska through social emotional learning

Colonialism, boarding schools, loss of culture and the pressures of modern society have helped contribute to feelings of hopelessness and have caused generations of trauma, post-traumatic stress and other suicidal behaviors. These intense issues have caused dramatic effects in rural Alaskan villages where there are a lack of services and support for those who need it most. The history of Alaska Native people is complex and deep with generations of trauma. These traumas can still be felt and are seen through high Adverse Childood Experiences scores, alcoholism and abuse rates, and suicide numbers. The challenges of maintaining a traditional lifestyle in the 21st Century has proven to be difficult, with isolation leading to a lack of services like law enforcement, mental health and qualified teachers. Using a pedagogical approach a Social Emotional Learning curriculum was created help increase mental health outcomes and provide students with the skills needed to overcome challenges they may face. Social Emotional Learning practices provide hope that students in rural Alaskan villages can learn the skills to be resilient and healthy individuals. Through this Social Emotional Learning curriculum students will plan and execute a student led project that remedies an issue in their community. Through this project students will gain Social Emotional skills that will allow them to be 21st Century leaders and community trailblazers.