How 1:1 Coaching Positively Impacts Student & Educator Mental Health

by Katie Dorn on February 22, 2024

There is a student mental health crisis in the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General declared the decline of student mental health as the “crisis of our time.” Nearly one-third of U.S. students report having experienced poor mental health, and 56% of teen girls report feeling anxious and/or depressed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the most recently available and first since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Exacerbated by the ripple effect of the pandemic, many of today’s students struggle with the vital skills they need to self-regulate and persist through difficulty. Research supports the idea that these non-academic barriers directly affect their ability to focus and succeed in school—and life outside of the classroom.


What’s more, students aren’t the only ones struggling. School staff face increased pressure to support the rising number of students in need of help—at a time when educators themselves are at a breaking point. The competing demands placed upon staff are compounding, and educators often lack the adequate resources needed to deal with the rapidly rising levels of behavioral and mental health issues of the students in their classrooms.


Sadly, this is yet another pressure driving teachers to exit the profession in record numbers, leaving the remaining staff to take on even more. Administrators recognize the urgent need to address the growing problem but often need help finding data-driven, proven resources that can make a difference for both their students and their maxed-out staff.

The Importance of 1:1 Coaching for Students and Educators

All students have the potential to learn and grow at school and in life. Young people benefit most from the unconditional positive regard of a caring adult trained to deliver feedback and encouragement. At its very heart, student mental health support is about meaningful relationships.

Responding to student mental health issues requires a personalized approach, rooted in relationships that go beyond student check-in meetings every other week, to deliver daily personalized support and accountability. Research shows that combining frequent doses of skill-building lessons, with one-on-one daily coaching, provides the structure and scaffolding required for students to apply practical resilience skills to their challenges. It allows them to take daily steps toward their desired change, fueling transformation.

Schools should strongly consider 1:1 resilience interventions that are goal-driven and grounded in research. By embedding personalized 1:1 asynchronous coaching with skill-building lessons, districts can multiply the capacity of their existing staff to deliver unconditional positive regard to every student, building a relationship rooted in the psychological safety that is necessary for students to trust, disclose, and do the vital work of personal growth.

Both the independent supportive lesson design and 1:1 student/coach feedback loop are the missing pieces to driving successful improvements in student mental health and well-being. But let’s not forget about educators—they need support as well. Today, districts must offer staff opportunities for resilience and mental health professional development. This can be accomplished with the same coaching model used for students, allowing educators to reconnect with their purpose, improve their well-being and coping, and model calm and resilience to those in their classroom.

The ideal mental wellness solution leverages the power and convenience of technology as well as the expertise of real people.

EmpowerU Coaching Builds Trust to Make a Lasting Impact

Through EmpowerU coaching, both students and educators benefit from asynchronous 1:1 relationships with highly trained and experienced coaches. Through 1:1 coaching, students and educators establish goals, challenges, and personalized strategies that help them battle self-doubt, regulate their emotions, and remain focused on their goals.

For K-12 students, EmpowerU partners with PBIS and MTSS district teams to provide students with equitable access to coaching interventions that help them overcome non-academic barriers to success so they can thrive. These interventions involve robust and specific feedback from our coaches to build a 1:1 trusting relationship with each student; from there, students use their personalized strategies to take charge of thoughts, feelings, and actions to grow as regulated, self-directed learners.

EmpowerU’s student outcomes often include increased self-control, fewer discipline referrals, better attendance, more student engagement, and increased academic focus and motivation.

After EmpowerU, I am doing so much better in my classes. I haven’t had such good grades in 3 years! Thank you for being so helpful, motivating, and kind throughout my course. :)

— High School Student

For educators, EmpowerU delivers evidence-based professional learning in an on-demand format that allows teachers and staff to work at their own pace from just about any device. Paired with 1:1 asynchronous coaching, this self-care and resilience course helps lower teacher stress levels and improve mental well-being. 

Teaching is a high stress career that leads to burnout and compassion fatigue. This course helped me transform my thinking and remind myself of why I chose this career.

— Teacher

Empowering Students and Educators to Succeed

As district leaders confront student and educator well-being hurdles at this critical time, they must act as thoughtful stewards of the abundance of mental health funding available today. They must ensure that the programs they utilize integrate resilience-building instruction, incorporate 1:1 coaching from highly experienced professionals, harness the transformative power of meaningful relationships, and prioritize measurable results that drive behavior and academic success.

All students should feel seen and heard and be empowered to succeed. And educators must be motivated, confident, and focused on making that a reality.


Katie Dorn, MA, LSC, MFT is Co-Founder and General Manager of EmpowerU, a service of Catapult Learning that has re-imagined the delivery of mental health supports to schools across the country.  By combining skill building content with embedded 1:1 coaching by trained mental health experts, EmpowerU allows districts to deliver effective support to more students, driving measurable improvements in well-being and academic motivation without a heavy lift on staff. A licensed school counselor and LMFT, Katie is a social-impact entrepreneur with a passion for helping students, families and educators build resilience so they can thrive.

A version of this post first appeared in District Administration.



EmpowerU’s highly personalized, data-driven Tier 1 and Tier 2 solutions equip students to be resilient, self-directed learners and reach their goals — without additional hires or a heavy lift from schools. The program provides each student with interactive lessons and personalized coaching, pairing technology with brain research in a unique way that supports students, empowers their growth and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Multi-year data makes it clear: nobody understands Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and approaches student supports the way EmpowerU does.

Ready to get started? Schedule a consultation with your EmpowerU school partnership director to learn how you can bring these results to your districts.

Topics: student resilience, tier 2 instruction, coaching methodolgy, expanding capacity