Student mental health and well-being
Our whole child approach to learning and development integrates physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual wellness. We believe that a strong focus on positive mental health strategies can improve each student's social-emotional well-being and provide them with the best possible chance for success in school and in life.
Promoting our Board-wide strategyOur comprehensive Mental Health Strategy provides our staff with a deep understanding of the Board’s commitments and priorities related to student mental health and well-being. Using a tiered approach, we promote wellness for our students through universal approaches which are good for all students.
Our strategy helps us identify and support students who are at risk for developing mental health problems through various prevention and intervention initiatives. It also includes supporting the few students who require more intensive, individualized supports. We work with community partners to direct appropriate resources to students and their families who need extra support. All of the decisions made by our Board are filtered through our mental health strategy lens to ensure that we continue to promote positive, mentally healthy students and schools in an inclusive and aligned way.
Building our school staff capacityOur school principals and educators are often the first level of support for students seeking help with improving their mental health. We provide a significant number of professional learning opportunities to our staff on topics such as anxiety, self-injury, suicide, social emotional learning, grief, self-care and well-being. Together, with Board psychologists, social workers, and guidance counsellors, we work to ensure that students are heard, and understood by those around them.
Our Board-wide Suicide Prevention, Risk Management and Postvention Protocol and Urgent Care Protocol help staff support students with suicidal thoughts, non-suicidal self-injury behaviours, and other significant mental health challenges. We also provide two other programs developed by Living Works Education (ASIST and SafeTALK) to support suicide awareness and prevention skills. Our staff are also provided with guidelines to know when and how to use these and other resources, and when to reach out for more help.
Helping younger students self-regulateOur kindergarten classrooms embrace self-regulation techniques to help children recognize their own emotional state throughout the day. When children are learning through play, they are also interacting with others and experiencing a wide range of emotions each day. We believe it is crucial that young children be given the tools to help understand these changes and how their emotional state affects their well-being.
At the elementary level, we facilitate the development of self-regulation skills through fostering self-awareness and teaching strategies to return to calm. We call this Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Children can retreat to a designated special area of the classroom whenever they need to regroup, or whenever they feel their emotions are not in an optimal state. A student might sit in a bean bag chair and put on headphones to listen to a pre-recorded message from parents, or stand quietly for a few moments doing controlled breathing until their emotional energy is back on track. As a result, children are more relaxed while at school, and in turn, when they arrive home.