July 19, 2022

Supporting Social-Emotional Development and Mental Health of Young Children

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) recently issued a Dear Colleague letter with recommendations to support the social-emotional development and mental health of young children.


Social-emotional development and mental health are foundational for family well-being and children’s healthy development and early learning, and are associated with positive long-term health, educational, and well-being outcomes.

In the Dear Colleague letter, the HHS and ED developed four recommendations to complement the October 2021 ED report on Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs, which was developed to assist a wide range of school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K-12 schools, and higher education settings.

The four recommendations with suggested action steps are:

  1. Implement evidence-based practices that support positive social-emotional development and mental health for all children and wellness for every caregiver.

  2. Prioritize workforce wellness and enhance workforce capacity to identify and respond to children’s and families’ social-emotional and mental health needs.

  3. Leverage policy and funding to increase access to social-emotional and mental health support and reduce barriers to access.

  4. Use data to promote equitable implementation and outcomes.

Details are available in the Dear Colleague letter.

HHS also will host a series of videos throughout the summer that support young children’s mental health and well-being.