What is the Difference between SEL and Social Emotional Health?

While the term social emotional learning, or SEL, has gained momentum, here at Momentous Institute, we continue to focus on the term social emotional health.

By Momentous Institute | Jan 13, 2021
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At Momentous Institute, we define social emotional health as “the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions, reactions and relationships.”

In recent years, the term social emotional learning has gained momentum in the world of education. This is an exciting and welcome shift in education, and we are pleased to see classrooms around the country embracing social emotional learning curricula and programming.

Despite its growth in popularity, Momentous Institute continues to focus on the term “social emotional health”. Why?

Our organization has, for almost four decades, been working at the intersection of mental health and education. Our belief is that these two disciplines go hand in hand.

Social emotional learning is an important part of social emotional health, but is not the whole picture. An easy way to think about it is:

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL HEALTH = social emotional learning + mental health.

Social emotional learning skills are absolutely important, but often missing a mental health lens to create a more robust picture. That’s why everything we do includes a mental health component. Our Changemakers curriculum contains a trauma lens that help explain why some children may struggle with certain topics or have a hard time mastering a particular social emotional learning skill. Our trainings and in-depth partnerships always have an educator and a mental health professional working in tandem to highlight both educational and mental health considerations. And our Momentous School collaborates with our therapeutic programming to ensure that every child’s mental health and social emotional health is prioritized.  

As we look forward to the future of education, we sincerely hope that every child has the opportunity to thrive in a classroom where social emotional learning is a core component. And we also hope that all educators understand the importance of paying attention to children’s mental health. This is why we will continue to prioritize social emotional health for all children.