Parent, caregiver, and community connections and support
Students have a range of natural supports and protective influences in their lives, at home, school, and in their communities. Working together, the strength of these natural supports can be optimized. This aspect of the strategy focuses on explicit and intentional parent, caregiver, and community connections and support, with a view to strengthen relationships, build mental health literacy, co-develop collaborative mental health promotion initiatives, and reinforce common understandings and messaging for young people.
System, school, classroom mental health leadership
Effective and sustainable school mental health practice is dependent on system, school, classroom mental health leadership. Educators need the support of school leaders to confidently introduce identity-affirming classroom mental health resources and programming, in the same way that school leaders depend on the support of system leaders to lead mentally healthy schools. Strategy work in this area helps to ensure that leaders at all levels understand their role in supporting school mental health and have the tools and resources they need to perform this role.
Strength-based mental health promotion
Strength-based mental health promotion, as part of daily classroom practice, is a key cornerstone for the MTSS. This includes, for example, a warm welcome for every student each day to create a strong sense of belonging at school, everyday mental health practices that reinforce a sense of wellness and a range of culturally responsive ways of coping with stress, and reminders about individual gifts, strengths and the power of self-love. In this 3-year strategy, more wellness-promoting classroom resources will be shared and supported.
Mental health literacy and stigma reduction
When students have accurate and current information about mental health, they gain a sense of agency for their own well-being and are better equipped to help themselves, or a peer, when mental health problems arise. In addition, knowledgeable young people can be ambassadors for stigma reduction, as they normalize the experience of mental health distress and help-seeking. Findings from #HearNowON 2021 indicate that students want to learn about mental health at school. Participants also highlighted the need to ensure strong mental health literacy for educators who support this instruction. In response, the strategy focuses on greater roll-out of MH LIT for educators and associated classroom resources, alongside implementation support for Student MH LIT secondary student mental health learning.
Student leadership, participation and agency
Through #HearNowON 2021, students expressed a strong desire to become more engaged in mental health initiatives in their school and board so that they can play a more active role in wellness promotion. Young people have a unique perspective and powerful voice in this work. Strategy work will continue to focus on ways to support student leadership, participation, and agency, safely, effectively, and authentically. The ThriveSMH reference group will continue to provide input to SMH-ON activities and will continue to co-lead the development of student-facing resources. Particular emphasis will be placed on encouraging the participation of “quiet leaders” through a range of diverse opportunities and on magnifying the reach of student-facing resources and forums through web and social media platforms.