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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).

The health unit recommends following the Aligned and Integrated Model (AIM) for school mental health and well-being form School Mental Health Ontario. The model brings together fundamental elements of the Foundations for a Healthy School framework, using a comprehensive approach to support the promotion of mental health and well-being at school.

  • “Can You Feel It?” supports students with building the necessary life skills to manage and cope with stress in their everyday lives. School Health public health nurses can work with schools to incorporate “Can You Feel It?” as part of a comprehensive strategy to building resiliency and positive mental health.
  • Healthy Playground Activity Leaders in Schools (Healthy P.A.L.S.) – This is a playground leadership program for elementary schools that encourages all children to participate in activities regardless of their gender, size, or ability. Dedicated school staff are trained to supervise the program and junior and intermediate students are trained as playground activity leaders for younger students. The Healthy P.A.L.S. leaders will plan and lead fun and safe activities on the playground. Contact the health unit for more information.
  • Bullying Awareness and Prevention - organize whole-school activities with student clubs (including GSA's), Pink shirt day, and youth-led initiatives like Social Justice clubs and Photo Voice.
  • Plan for no-cut sports programs.
  • Post signs at reception that school values family time, energy, and commitment to partnering with families.

  • Involving students in designating a quiet place to practice stress management techniques, (e.g. build a peace garden, relaxation room, lounge).
  • Creating a resource section in the library on positive mental health promotion and mental illness including support services.
  • Displaying relevant resources from community service providers for families.
  • Offer health unit newsletter inserts, many are related to positive mental health promotion, to raise awareness among your school community.
  • 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.
  • Explore Dare to Dream funding.
  • Support student self-regulation through an enhanced Student Nutrition Program.
  • Back-to-School Mental Health Kit – specifically for parents who are concerned about their child’s mental health relating to the pandemic and infection control measures, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) has prepared a Back-to-School Mental Health Kit to empower families to support their child’s mental health and to help find mental health supports when needed.
  • Roots of Empathy is a research-based program, available to elementary schools, that has been shown to increase empathy and decrease bullying. If you are interested in having one of your classrooms participate,or visit www.rootsofempathy.org.
  • The Triple P Positive Parenting Program is an effective parenting program that helps parents with small changes that can make a big difference. Encourage parents to visit www.triplep-parenting.ca or contact the health unit for more information.
  • Community partners may also be available to assist in the development, planning, and implementation of Healthy Schools initiatives, and are a valuable asset to any Healthy Schools Committee. For more information about community partners click on our Community Partnerships page. 
  • Organize a Mental Health Week walk and events (early May), or Paint the Town Pink event.
  • Create partnerships with local women and children's shelters.
  • Utilize resources:  Bullying - We Can All Help Stop It , Expand the Reach (coaches' tool kit); Cent$less.
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