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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.

Use the sample activities below to help incorporate 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:

We have compiled a list of 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:

Additional activities to consider:

  • Train students to lead the Healthy 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 youth-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.

Community partners may be available to assist in the development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives, and are a valuable asset to any Healthy Schools Committee.

  • 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.
  • Appoint a representative from your school to attend local COMPASS meetings (Simcoe County).
  • Watch for updates from your school board Mental Health Leader.
  • Engage members of your mental health team (e.g. school counsellors, social workers, child and youth workers) in planning and implementing mental health initiatives.
  • Create partnerships with local mental health organizations and women and children’s shelters.
  • Share information and updates with families about your mental health and well-being goals, activities, and what students are learning in the classroom.
  • Be aware of the supports available in your community, and how to help students, staff and/or families who are looking for additional supports.
  • Use our sample newsletter inserts (many are related to positive mental health promotion) to raise awareness among your school community.
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