Children’s Mental Health Leader Spotlight: Emma Stone


Actress Emma Stone is frequently in the news, whether for starring in Easy A, winning best actress for La La Land, or for her new Netflix series Maniac.  But this week, she made headlines for something completely different: she is the newest board member of the Child Mind Institute, a national organization that provides resources and support to children with mental health and learning disorders (as well as a sponsor of our upcoming 2nd Annual Know Your Rights conference).

So what’s the connection?  In the past few years, Stone has often spoken publicly about her experiences with anxiety in order to try to reduce the stigma that often comes along with mental health issues.  In a video for the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign, she wanted to make sure children know that they are not alone.  “Everyone experiences a version of anxiety or worry in their lives, and maybe we go through it in a different or more intense way for longer periods of time, but it’s not—there’s nothing wrong with you,” she said in the video.

Stone traces her anxiety back to when she was about seven years old, according to an interview in Rolling Stone.  She says in the interview: “When I was about seven, I was convinced the house was burning down.  I could sense it.  Not a hallucination, just a tightening in my chest, feeling I couldn’t breathe, like the world was going to end.  There were some flare-ups like that, but my anxiety was constant.  I would ask my mom a hundred times how the day was gonna lay out.  What time was she gonna drop me off?  Where was she gonna be?  What would happen at lunch?  Feeling nauseous.  At a certain point, I couldn’t go to friends’ houses anymore—I could barely get out the door to school.”

But Stone said seeing a therapist helped her a lot, as did improv and acting, when you have to be present in the moment rather than worrying about the future.  She also drew a book for herself to visualize what happens when she listens to her anxiety rather than continuing to go about her day: “I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true.  And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger.  If I listen to it enough, it crushes me.  But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing—let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs—then it shrinks down and fades away,” she told Rolling Stone.

While Stone still panics sometimes, she continues to manage her anxiety with coping mechanisms that work for her, such as therapy and meditation.  She also tries to keep conversations about anxiety out in the open, she said on a panel with Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute.  Upon announcement of her role on the board of directors, she said she is proud to join a “stigma-shattering” organization and “be of service to children and teens across the nation with mental health or learning disorders.”

If your child struggles with anxiety or other disorders, check out some of the Child Mind Institute’s free resources.

Special Education Leader Spotlight: Margaret Bancroft


Special education has a long way to go before all of our students receive the education they deserve, but it’s come a long way from where it started!  One person we can thank for some of the advancements in special education is Margaret Bancroft, a pioneer in special education.

Bancroft was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1854.  She attended the Philadelphia Normal School and became a teacher.  When she was 25 years old, she left Philadelphia schools to open her own school in Haddonfield, NJ.  The school started with just one student!  Originally called The Haddonfield School for the Mentally Deficient and Peculiarly Backward, it was renamed in 1904 as the Bancroft Training School.

Her school was one of the first schools for children with developmental disabilities.  When she founded her school, children with disabilities were often sent to state institutions, where they were not educated at all—they were only isolated from other children and their families.  Click here to learn about the reform and closure of many institutions for people with disabilities.

Bancroft once said, “Special children must have special schools with well-trained teachers who used materials adapted to those children’s capabilities.  They should not be abandoned to state institutions where conditions were appallingly inhumane.”

At Bancroft’s school, nutrition, hygiene, exercise, prayer, and sensory and artistic development were emphasized.  Unlike the state institutions of the time, the well-being and growth of students was considered important.  Bancroft’s students also took field trips to places like circuses and museums.

Bancroft’s school rapidly expanded during her lifetime, and her legacy lives on.  The women’s club she founded, the Haddon Fortnightly, is still active.  The Bancroft organization now services children and adults with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It provides services like early intervention and at-home services, has a number of adult community living programs, provides transition services, has several rehabilitation service programs, and has a school, an early education program, and a residential program.  Bancroft works also inspired many in the medical profession to help children with disabilities, and helped changed societal views of people with disabilities.  Some of her writings are available here.

We are grateful for and inspired by the work of Margaret Bancroft, and hope that there are other world-changers out there to improve education for all children!