“All too often, school mental health initiatives come and go, depend on outside expertise, or only reach a select few lucky enough to be part of a funded pilot. The Ontario approach is designed to build a system that brings quality and coherence to school mental health across the Province in sustainable and scalable ways, in order to truly support every student.

The Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource rests on this foundation and approach.”

Kathy Short, Director, School Mental Health ASSIST

Over the past several years, School Mental Health ASSIST has been working with Ontario school boards to build foundations for effective practices in school mental health. This foundational work has involved, for example:

The real excitement about this resource is that it was created with, and for, Ontario educators in an authentic example of collaborative professionalism. This resource is designed to meet a need identified by educators, in a way that makes sense for educators. Rooted in evidence, and immersed in practice wisdom, the Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource aims to help educators to move from knowledge (like they may acquire in a mental health workshop) to action (something that they can do right away to try to make a difference for students).

To optimize the use of this resource, it may be helpful to review some of the key foundations of Ontario’s school mental health strategy. In this section, you will find some information to enhance your mental health awareness and knowledge about the provincial approach to school mental health.

  1. Shared Language

Promoting Mental Health: Finding a Shared LanguageOften, when people think about mental health, their mind is drawn to examples of serious mental illness. Instead, we encourage you to equate mental health with a sense of flourishing and thriving. Like physical health, mental health is something that we need to pay attention to and take care of in order to stay well. And so do our students. We can help them to learn ways to protect their mental health.

The video from CAMH offers a good overview of language related to mental health. It is only about 6 minutes long and easy to understand.

  1. Personal Resiliency

Personal Resiliency documentWhen considering ways to support student mental health and well-being, it is a good time to also think about what you are doing, or could do, to enhance your own personal resiliency. Being an educator is very challenging work, and, as helpers, we often put ourselves, or find ourselves, last. It is important to take time to attend to your own social and emotional needs, if not for yourself, then for those you care about in your life! This includes taking time for things like being with family and friends, engaging in hobbies or sports you enjoy, practising your faith, or just doing nothing now and then.

A one-pager was developed as a gentle reminder of the daily simple things we can do to support our own mental health and well-being. Learn more about Personal Resiliency.

  1. Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support TriangleThinking about mental health and mental illness can be overwhelming! We have found that when you organize, using a multi-tiered system of support framework, then it is easier to see what is needed, by whom, to support students with differing levels of social-emotional need. As an educator, most of your work occurs at tier one, supporting wellness for all students, through good welcoming, including, skill-building, understanding and partnering. The Aligned and Integrated Model (AIM), shown here, is an example of a Multi-Tiered System of Support. There are many materials available through School Mental Health ASSIST to help you to understand this framework, and your role as an educator within this.

Supporting Minds - teacher and students at a tableFor example, you may wish to review the Mentally Healthy Classroom Info-Sheet and/or the Mentally Healthy Classroom On-Line Tutorial.

  1. Learning More about Mental Health

The practices in the Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource are designed to be easy to understand and implement.  No special training is required.  However it can be helpful to ground your practice in knowledge about mental health and social emotional learning before trying the resource in your classroom.  Here are some resources that can be helpful for building professional knowledge about student mental health:

There are an increasing number of speakers, conferences, books, websites etc seeking to support educator mental health knowledge-building. Some offerings are better than others, in terms of connection to evidence, alignment with the Ontario approach, cost, etc. If you are not sure about the credibility of a resource, check in with your board Mental Health Leader.

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