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Schools & Child Care

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Positive mental health in schools

Promoting Positive Mental Health in Schools

Positive mental health is defined as "the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity." (Public Health Agency of Canada).

We recommend following the Aligned and Integrated Model (AIM) for school mental health and well-being from School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO). The tier 1 activities in the AIM model (promote, understand, include welcome, partner) closely align with the Foundations for a Healthy School framework.

We can help you to incorporate the sample activities below related to mental health promotion into your school action plan and/or engage students, staff, families and community partners to come up with ideas of your own:

Click the links below for suggested lesson plans, curriculum supports, health unit programs and additional resources to assist educators in teaching about this topic. Find them by clicking on the links below:

To help create a classroom environment that reinforces mental health curriculum: 

  • Watch for updates from your school board Mental Health Leader.
  • Engage members of your team (e.g. school counsellors, social workers, child and youth workers) in planning and implementing mental health initiatives.
  • Train elementary students to lead the Playground Activity Leaders in Schools (Healthy P.A.L.S.) program at recess.
  • Engage students to create positive messages, posters and/or artwork related to mental health to display in the school.
  • Create and support student-led initiatives that address social and economic issues (local or global) and apply an equity and accessibility lens to all aspects of your school community.
  • Organize whole-school activities with student clubs (including GSAs), Pink shirt day, and youth-led initiatives like Social Justice clubs and Photo Voice.
  • Offer no-cut sports programs and/or intramurals.
  • Encourage peer mentoring programs such as Link Crew.
  • Greet students and families as they arrive.
  • Post signs at reception that demonstrate school values (e.g. family time, energy, and commitment to partnering with families).
  • Involve students in designating a quiet place to practice stress management techniques, (e.g. build a peace garden, relaxation room, lounge).
  • Create a chill room or hallway and welcoming policies; host a chill fair; promote classroom calming; put up bathroom kindness posters; promote mindfulness and taking part in martial arts/yoga classes.
  • Create a resource section in the library on positive mental health promotion and mental illness including support services.
  • Display relevant resources from community service providers for families.
  • Support student self-regulation through an enhanced Student Nutrition Program.
  • Provide physical activity equipment for students to use outdoors, and/or pan for a naturalized school ground. Physical activity is supportive of mental health.

Engage parents, caregivers, and families:

  • Share information and updates with families about your mental health and well-being goals, activities, and what students are learning in the classroom.
  • Actively engage school staff, parents/ families and other members of your local school community in activities to promote mental health and well-being for all.
  • Organize parent and caregiver presentations: through partnership with Strong Minds, Strong Kids: Psychology Canada public health nurses offer customized presentations for parents and caregivers based on programs such as Kids Have Stress Too! and Stress Lessons.


Partner with your school community:

  • Appoint a school representative to attend COMPASS meetings (Simcoe County).
  • Create partnerships with local mental health organizations, shelters, and other community service providers.
  • Be aware of the supports available in your community, and how to help students, staff and/or families who are looking for additional supports.  
  • Reach out to community partners to help develop, plan, and implement Healthy Schools initiatives, and/or to participate as a member of your Healthy Schools or well-being committee.
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