What is School Mental Health ASSIST?
School Mental Health ASSIST is an initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Education designed to support school boards with student mental health and well-being. This support is provided via resources, tools, and implementation support.
What are the key areas of focus for School Mental Health ASSIST?
- Organizational conditions and leadership for effective school mental health
- Capacity-building for education professionals
- Implementation support for school mental health promotion and prevention programming
Who leads School Mental Health ASSIST?
A provincial team, based within the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, provides leadership for the initiative, in collaboration with the Special Education Policy and Programs Branch and with partners at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health.
How does School Mental Health ASSIST fit with other provincial initiatives related to mental health and addictions?
It is part of Open Minds, Healthy Minds, a comprehensive, cross-ministerial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy for the province of Ontario. This Strategy identifies child and youth mental health as the primary area of focus in the first three years. Schools play an important role in promoting positive mental health, identifying students in need, and supporting those who require intervention. Implementing School Mental Health ASSIST is one of the key commitments made by the Ministry of Education in support of Open Minds, Healthy Minds.
What resources will be provided to all school boards in Ontario?
- Slide decks, facilitator guides, and print resources that boards can use to support system and school mental health awareness
- On-line resource space for educators related to School Mental Health
- Decision-making tools (e.g., Professional Development Guide)
- Presentations at meetings of provincial organizations
- The Ministry of Education will also produce an Educator Guide and access to MyHealth Magazine in 2011-2012.
What are School Mental Health ASSIST Focus Boards?
In 2011-2012, 15 school boards were selected to participate in a deeper level of implementation support. These boards received funding to support a Mental Health Leader who is tasked with creating and enacting a Board Mental Health Strategy, coordinating educator capacity-building initiatives, and implementing appropriate research-based programs and strategies. To assist them in these tasks, the provincial School Mental Health ASSIST team provides a suite of resources designed to facilitate organizational capacity, mental health literacy, and effective selection and implementation of programming. The feedback from ASSIST Focus Boards will help in refining the tools that will be shared with other Ontario school boards in the future.
Who are the 2011-2012 Focus Boards?
These 15 diverse District School Boards (including three French District School Boards) reflect a range in student population and demographic factors as well as community capacity to address mental health needs, the availability of mental health resources and supports and relative size and geography. Focus Boards include:
Algoma DSB, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB, CSD Catholique Centre-Sud, CSD des écoles Catholiques du Sud-Ouest, CSD du Nord-Est de l’Ontario, DSB of Niagara, Hamilton-Wentworth DSB, Hastings and Prince Edward DSB, Huron-Superior Catholic DSB, Keewatin-Patricia DSB, Kenora Catholic DSB, Peel DSB, Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic DSB, Toronto Catholic DSB, Trillium Lakelands DSB
- Leadership Modules, offered in collaboration with the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (PACE Implementation Science modules) and co-developed with partners at the Council for Ontario Directors of Education, the Association of Chief Psychologists, the Association of Chief Social Workers, and the Leadership Branch of the Ministry of Education
- School Mental Health Literacy Modules, on several key topics relevant to educators (e.g., understanding, identifying, and supporting students with mood problems, talking with students about mental health).
- Tools and Templates to support Board Mental Health Strategy development, Resource Mapping, Strategy Selection
- Platforms for collaboration and sharing of resources
- Ongoing coaching support
Will more boards have access to Focus Board supports in the future?
It is anticipated that more boards will receive these supports in 2012-2013, provided that the evaluation of School Mental Health ASSIST demonstrates progress in organizational leadership, educator capacity, and school mental health program and strategy implementation.