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Dwight School Fosters Social-Emotional Wellness Inside and Outside the Classroom

On our Sparking Genius Podcast, host Dianne Drew sits down with education leaders and innovative thinkers to explore what the future of education holds.

In the most recent episode, Dianne examines how schools and parents can work together to improve students’ mental health with guests Michael Haber (Dwight Director of School Counseling) and Grace Berman, LCSW. 

Dwight strives to create an environment that promotes emotional, behavioral, social, and academic growth. Michael Haber, Dwight’s Director of School Counseling, leads the team that supports students at our school in navigating mental health and social-emotional well-being conversations.

Through his tenure at Dwight, Michael has witnessed firsthand the notable shift in student attitudes towards seeking mental health support. While there's often a tendency to avoid addressing mental health issues, Michael has observed a positive change towards openness among students — especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. This increased receptiveness has been fruitful, allowing students to confront concerns head-on and normalize discussions about mental health within the Dwight school community.

Michael noted that this openness has been helpful in working through issues surrounding social media, amongst other things.

“I've had situations, family sessions where kids have talked really openly about the amount of time they spend on TikTok…and then feeling badly about themselves because they can't do that, or they don't measure up to these other people that they're seeing,” says Michael. 

In addition to fostering this newfound openness around social media use, parents should consider showcasing their own healthy social media habits, such as setting limits on screen time during specific activities.

Grace Berman, a seasoned Licenced Clinical Social Worker who supports families in New York City, also spoke of the challenges posed by social media—for children and parents. She emphasizes the necessity of finding a middle ground in social media use, encouraging parents to actively monitor online activities. 

“Totally restricting access to social media is not good for a kid,” says Grace. “Too much, of course, is bad. But a total restriction is problematic, because that is where so many friendships are forming and connections are being made. And so it is about sort of finding a balance and a middle path.”

The discussion about social media’s impact on students’ mental health is just one of many topics found in this most recent Sparking Genius episode, with Michael and Grace offering advice on the evolving landscape of mental health within educational settings. At its core, however, the podcast highlights the importance of the collaborative partnership between schools and parents to support student well-being and academic success. 

“I'm a big believer in communication. I think the more communication and collaboration that exists between adults in a child's life, although they might not agree, I think they are better for that, right?” asks Michael. 

Much more of Michael and Grace's insightful conversation with Dianne on Sparking Genius can be found directly on the Dwight Global Network website, or wherever listeners enjoy their favorite podcasts.