Teachers in Clayton County will soon have access to a new resource that provides audio-guided mental health sessions.

“We are thrilled to partner with Clayton County Public Schools as the first metro Atlanta school district to provide Inner Explorer in every school and classroom,” said Laura Bakosh, CEO of Inner Explorer.

Inner Explorer is a technology platform that delivers audio-guided practices that support mental health in schools. The daily mindful awareness program offers lessons aimed to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, while activating learning readiness.

“Our research continues to point to the fact that mindfulness practices alleviate stress, improve coping, and boost self-compassion in young people and improve their engagement in school,” said Dr. Natalie Watson-Singleton, associate professor in the department of psychology at Spelman College, and the lead researcher on the initiative.

“These findings also emerge across marginalized populations, signaling the cultural relevance of mindfulness across diverse groups,” she continued.

Available in English and Spanish, the program will also offer an extension for students and families, which includes a mobile app and take-home mental health practices.

The program is coming to Atlanta through a multi-year investment by the GreenLight Fund.

The GreenLight Fund is a national non-profit organization that partners with communities to create opportunities for inclusive prosperity.

“The time to act is now, as we’ve heard loud and clear from our community,” said Joli Cooper, executive director of GreenLight Atlanta. “Our young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being continues to be adversely impacted, leaving them stressed, anxious, and struggling to cope. Especially our children in communities of color who must also contend with social stigma and lack of access to affordable, culturally responsive care. We are excited to support Inner Explorer’s program as it meets our children where they are.”

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, children across the country are in a mental health state of emergency.

In July 2021, the American Psychological Association reported that 81% of teens experienced more intense stress during the pandemic.

“The timing is critically important with student and educator stress at record high levels. Research has proven that chronic stress hinders brain development, blocks learning and causes mental health vulnerabilities,” said Bakosh.

Through the GreenLight Fund Atlanta, Inner Explorer will be free for Clayton County Public School teachers starting January 2023.

“It is a great time, as we navigate the impacts of the global pandemic, to reinforce character traits such as empathy, self-awareness, and most importantly resilience as critical life skills needed to be successful in any walk of life. We anticipate this being a great addition to our mental health and wellness efforts,” said Dr. Morcease Beasley, superintendent and CEO of schools.

The program will be available in English and Spanish. It will also offer an extension for students and families, which includes a mobile app and take-home practices.

The Atlanta Hawks Foundation is also partnering with the program to boost mental health awareness.

“We are proud to team up with GreenLight Fund Atlanta. We are incredibly connected to their mission of providing mental health support for youth,” said David Lee, executive director of the foundation. “At a time when there is a tremendous need to ensure Atlanta youth’s wellbeing is cared for, we are committed to using our platforms and resources to make a difference in this space.”

As a program partner, the Atlanta Hawks Foundation will provide invitations to games and initiatives to drive awareness.

GreenLight Fund Atlanta hopes to engage 25,000 students with the program this school year. The organization also anticipates expanding the program to other school districts and community-based organizations in near future.

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