NCDSB Kicks off the School Year Talking about Promoting Mental Health!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Teacher with studentsBy Kim McEntee, Supervisor of Mental Health and Wellness, NCDSB

At Northeastern Catholic District School Board (NCDSB), staff started off the school year talking about the foundational elements for creating mentally healthy school environments.

With the support of NCDSB senior administration, it was determined that promoting positive mental health was a fantastic way to kick off the year.

“We are committed to embedding the mental health strategy into the culture of our board and our schools,” said Director of Education Tricia Stefanic Weltz. “We strive to ensure the well-being of our students as we provide Catholic education in a safe, nurturing, equitable, and inclusive environment.”

NCDSB focused on the mental health strategy early in the new school year to help staff develop the skills and understanding they need to support our students, she added.

Thanks to the online resources available through School Mental Health Assist, NCDSB school communities accessed the online learning module Creating Mentally Healthy Classrooms during the September 1 professional activity day.

School teams across our district – principals, vice-principals, educators and support staff – shared in the learning session. They could discuss practical ways to support student mental health and well-being, as well as the role of the school in the overall system of care.

Using these conversations and a related survey, NCDSB staff identified many practical examples of how they can promote mental health for all, in their individual work and as a whole school. Examples included:

  • Promoting a healthy, caring, positive classroom
  • Team building (“getting to know you” activities with students)
  • Making every child/youth feel important and that they matter
  • Greeting each child by name with a warm welcome each morning
  • Celebrating each culture and encouraging equity and inclusivity
  • Taking notice of each student’s likes and interests
  • Encouraging students to use deep breathing strategies
  • Taking the 21-day gratitude challenge, journaling reasons to be grateful each day
  • Promoting a growth mindset and mindfulness practices, to name a few.

The learning and conversations we engaged in need to be more than a “one off.” NCDSB intends to build on these themes through a communication plan that includes regular staff updates and opportunities in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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