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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 Assist. 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
  • 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 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:  Power of One presentation; Bullying - We Can All Help Stop It (parent guide), Expand the Reach (coaches' tool kit); Cent$less.
  • Positive Mental Health Toolkit – Designed to promote positive mental health perspectives and practices within the school. The toolkit is meant to facilitate a shift in practice and to assist in engaging school and community strengths to foster the positive growth and development of children and youth.
  • The Psychology Foundation of Canada – Information and strategies to support children and youth, with lessons and activities so students can develop knowledge, skills and experience with handling stress positively. It provides full complement of resources for home and school.
  • YouThrive Toolkit - A free web-based resource for those who work with youth. Toolkit is designed for people who want to create communities where young people can thrive, be happy, healthy and safe.
  • Teen Mental Health – Contains information and resources for educators relating to school mental health, school curriculum, art and the mind and the body and the mind.
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – CAMH conducts the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey every two years with Grade 7-12 students.
  • CAMH Promoting Mental Health:  Finding a Shared Language video - excellent video explaining the interconnected concepts of mental health and mental illness, as well as what it means to 'promote mental health' in ourselves and in our communities.
  • Mind Your Mind – Website for youth and young adults about mental health. 
  • Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide – This guide trains teachers to be comfortable with their own knowledge of mental health and mental disorders and empowers teachers to share this knowledge with students in a multiple module format curriculum. Developed in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association. 
  • Leading Mentally Healthy Schools - information to support student mental health in Ontario schools.
  • Supporting Minds:  An Educator's Guide to Promotion Students' Mental Health and Well-Being
  • – An interactive resource to help educate young adults about their mental health.  With mobile apps, videos and education modules (complete with facilitator guides), my provides tools to talk about mental health, stress and wellness with youth.  
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