COVID-19 has triggered unique and dynamic issues affecting mental health, and schools must proactively respond to keep their communities healthy. To help schools promote community well-being, NAIS members can consider using Authentic Connections (AC) to administer their student, faculty/staff, and parent resilience surveys. Authentic Connections is a team of leading researchers, clinicians, and consultants focused on improving mental health in school communities. Grounded in decades of research on child psychology and resilience, AC’s work centers on surveying school stakeholders on issues affecting their mental health, distilling key insights, and jointly creating plans to improve well-being. Using aggregate findings derived from AC’s surveys, NAIS and AC will jointly release a series of reports about mental health in independent schools that include evidenced-based suggestions to maximize resilience. To help schools navigating financial challenges caused by the COVID pandemic, Authentic Connections can offer the first administration of either the Student Resilience Survey (SRS) or Faculty Resilience Survey (FRS) free of charge. To get started, please complete the interest form here, and a member of the AC team will be in touch soon. How Can Schools Use Survey Results? The pandemic has led to increased rates of mental illness; participating schools can proactively reduce risks among their students and staff using scientifically valid assessments that yield specific directions for interventions. Recommendations tailored for each school community will help: Refine programmatic solutions for emotional support among students, faculty, staff, and administrators Enhance emotional and learning support for student groups that are especially vulnerable Sustain and enrich interactions among peers and increase feelings of belonging Modify instructional approaches to adjust to new challenges After implementing such action plans from AC’s prior assessments, communities have shown not only reductions in mental health symptoms but also greater positive connections with the school community as a whole. Authentic Connections’ Surveys Authentic Connections offers a range of resilience surveys to help schools gather actionable data from all stakeholders. They have all been thoroughly tested to establish reliability and validity of measurement. Student Resilience Survey (SRS): The SRS is AC’s short-form survey for students in grades 6-12. The SRS assesses how students are doing on important indicators of mental health and modifiable aspects of school life, including learning efficacy, connectedness with peers and adults at school, and student-parent relationships. High Achieving Schools Survey (HASS): The HASS is a comprehensive assessment for students in grades 6-12. It includes all measures from the SRS, but more thoroughly assesses all aspects of peer relationships, parent relationships, and social media use. Faculty Resilience Survey (FRS): The FRS gives voice to all faculty and staff, providing school leaders with the insights they need to improve employee well-being and reduce burnout. Measures on the FRS include different dimensions of job-related burnout; feelings of stress; relationships with colleagues, administrators, and parents; and multiple aspects of school climate, including diversity, equity, and inclusion. What Your School Receives Administration of Surveys Each of the surveys is targeted to specifically assess the most important measures of well-being (i.e., anxiety, depression, burnout) and modifiable aspects of school life most relevant to the current climate (i.e., learning efficacy, feelings of connectedness). Please note that all data are collected anonymously and results will be shared only in the aggregate. Report with Interactive Dashboards Explore the findings by demographic variables (such as grade, ethnicity, length of time at school), to understand which subgroups within the community are doing well, and which may need more attention. Contextualize findings with benchmark norms to help understand how the school fares on quantitatively assessed indices of well-being, relative to similar schools (e.g., boarding vs. day schools, schools across the country, or schools within their own region). Understand areas of school strength and potential areas for improvement from a thorough analysis of responses to open-ended questions, presented in word clouds. As with quantitative findings, interactive dashboards allow leaders to see issues that are “top of mind” generally in the community, and also those especially salient within particular subgroups of interest. Receive tailored, prioritized recommendations, based on integration of the school’s quantitative and qualitive findings with known best practices from resilience research; guidance gleaned from AC’s work with other schools; and suggestions directly mentioned by community members. Results Debrief Review results, discuss recommendations, and plan next steps with the AC team on a one-hour teleconference call. To get started, please complete the interest form here, and a member of the AC team will be in touch soon. If you need additional support related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Independent Schools page.