District wellness coordinator says students might not yet see benefits of HAERT program, clarifies its objectives


Elyssa Kennedy

District Wellness Coordinator William Blair clarified the objectives of the HAERT program and the District’s steps to address student mental health this year.

Mountain View–Los Altos high schoolers may not yet see the benefits of the HAERT program, MVLA Wellness Director William Blair said in an interview.

The HAERT program — which stands for Happiness Awareness and Emotional Resilience Training — has received overwhelmingly negative student feedback since its introduction in late September. That feedback, however, may stem from the fact that students have only been exposed to the introductory material of the program, which is meant to span over multiple years, according to Blair.

“Some of the feedback that I’ve gotten is, ‘Well this doesn’t help somebody who’s really depressed,’ and I agree; I get that,” Blair said. “It’s not intended to do that.” 

Although the majority of MVLA students find HAERT unhelpful — 362 of 378 respondents in The Talon’s most recent survey — some students have a positive outlook on the program. 

“MVLA students who have been actively engaging in the HAERT program with this mindset and this intentionality have reported benefits, including reduced anxiety, better sleeping habits and improved academics which mirrors results from social emotional learning research,” Blair said. 

The HAERT curriculum was created by professionals working alongside an intensive outpatient care program at El Camino Hospital.

The first year of the HAERT Program focuses on building “self-awareness” and “self-management.” Blair emphasized that the HAERT program has no intentions of serving as a replacement for therapy, and instead serves as a preventative program. 

“Ultimately, the goal of the HAERT Program so far has been to increase awareness of the science behind our physiological responses, to cultivate intentional focus and to provide the opportunity to practice self-awareness and self-regulation skills.”

Since HAERT’s implementation, the District has involved all staff through two workshops centering around the program, as well as multiple suicide-prevention trainings. The goal is to educate teachers so that they are able to aid students from all backgrounds and different vantage points of stress.

“One of the core tenets of the HAERT Program is that these skills are practiced and developed over time,” Blair said. “Brain research suggests that ‘the neurons that fire together, wire together,’ and the more that we practice these skills, the more benefits we will receive.”

To learn more about the District’s response to feedback about HAERT, read Blair’s formal response here.