Background Information

High school students are often under a lot of stress to fit in, maintain good grades, choose a future career, and meet the demands of a high-pressure society. Academic-related stress can have significant impacts on students’ learning capacity and academic performance, mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances and substance use (Pascoe, Hetrick & Parker, 2020). Among other worries, students may also have the additional stress of being in a setting in which sometimes the culture and climate is not optimal. It is essential that teachers are advocates for students whose work supports larger efforts for social change (Cochran‐Smith, Shakman, Jong, Terrell, Barnatt, and McQuillan, 2009). The “Call to Action” resources will help students develop awareness and skills to help respond in situations that may need de-escalation, whether it be bullying, school violence, or a mental health crisis.

Learning outcomes and competencies of educational materials highlighting “Call to Action” may focus on:

• Reducing negative consequences.
• Creating safer school environments.
• Promoting social justice and positive youth development.
• Encouraging and celebrating diversity and inclusion.
• Empowering students to speak up and speak out.

Best Practices and Implications for Professional Practice

  • Promote a supportive school environment.
    • One way that educators can promote safer school environments is to develop lessons that avoid bias and include positive representations of diversity in people, history, and events.
  • Find opportunities for visibility and inclusion of each and every student.
  • Connect instructional materials to the Illinois SEL standards

Suggested Resources

Safe2Help Illinois Website Resources:

Controlling Your Urges--- with the 15 Minute Rule This exercise can help students with having a plan in place when faced with an urge that should be avoided.
What is Safe2Help Illinois? Video
Behind the Mask Video
It's OK to Not be OK Video

Other Resources:

Sample Classroom Strategies

IL SEL Standards:

  • Goal 1: Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success.
  • Goal 2: Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
  • Goal 3: Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.


These activities can be used to address the Illinois SEL Standards.

a. Call to Action Letter from ProCon/Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Have students write a “call to action” letter about an issue that includes their positions on the issue, why individuals should act, and at least three things they should do to help the cause.
b. Social Justice by National Education Association (NEA) The purpose of the NEA Social Justice Lesson Plans is to share the stories of the NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards Recipients. Through the sharing of their stories, educators can help students identify traits of these exemplary social justice leaders.
c. Teen Action by Global Kids Inc. This site contains a full spectrum of resources and lessons, including a plan to incorporate teen action at school, lessons on teambuilding, leadership skills, diversity, human rights, positive peer influence, and many others that can be used to incorporate lessons into the classroom. This resource is at no cost.