Need help now?

We don't provide mental health advice, counselling, or treatment. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact your local community crisis team. You can also reach out to the Indigenous Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310, the Black Youth Helpline 1-833-294-8650, or Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.

Educators

Practical resources to support student mental health during COVID-19

The following resources and learning opportunities have been prepared to both bolster student mental health and support the well-being of educators. These classroom-ready resources can be used for either virtual and in-person learning and are designed to help you support students in the following areas:

  1. Promoting wellness during challenging times
  2. Supporting student mental health learning
  3. Encouraging early help-seeking when mental health problems arise

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of your local hospital.  Even in these unusual times, it is important to get the immediate help that you need.  There are people ready and available to help. If you are not sure if it is an emergency, or just need to talk through the situation, consider reaching out to Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or the distress line or mobile crisis team in your area. Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 or TEXT 686868

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Student Mental Health Action Kit

Lesson plans

Promoting wellness during challenging times.

 

Getting ready and minds on

Resources for you and your students.

 

Classroom-ready resources

Activities you can use right away.

 

Provide support

What can I do if I notice a student might be struggling?

Talk about mental health

Key messages to use with students about mental health and well-being.

 

Take care of yourself

Your mental health matters.

 


Lesson plans and supplementary materials

Promoting wellness during challenging times

Virtual Field Trips: Stress Management and Coping

In partnership with Ophea, we’re offering a series of lessons (organized by early years, grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12) to support the development of stress management and healthy coping skills. The activities in these lessons provide an opportunity for skill development and modelling for both students and educators. Each lesson has three parts: a minds-on activity, a pre-recorded virtual field trip session that introduces breathing strategies, and a consolidation activity

Supporting student mental health learning

Student learning about mental health needs to be developmentally appropriate and contextualized for student needs.  As such, there are two main offerings in this area:

Elementary

Health & Physical Education Curriculum - Mental Health Literacy Lesson Plans

Health & Physical Education Curriculum – Mental Health Literacy Lesson Plans

Elementary lesson plans designed to support mental health literacy and social emotional learning.

Secondary

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MH LIT: Student Mental Health in Action

A series of 4 lesson plans designed to support student mental health literacy & help seeking.

Encouraging early help-seeking when mental health problems arise

In addition to these lesson plans, student friendly resources to support help-seeking and to enhance awareness of pathways to mental health supports will be provided in an ongoing manner.


Getting ready and minds on

For educators

Mentally Healthy Return to School Following Winter Break and Beyond

Mentally Healthy Return to School Following Winter Break and Beyond

This tool provides guidance for educators to support students as they transition back from the winter break and engage in remote learning.

Tips for Educators to Help Students Manage Stress During Uncertain Times

Tips for Educators to Help Students Manage Stress During Uncertain Times

Strategies that you can share with students that can help them to cope

Supporting Mentally Healthy Conversations About Anti-Black Racism With Students

Supporting Mentally Healthy Conversations About Anti-Black Racism With Students

Tips and information about how to have mentally healthy conversations about anti-Black racism with students

Supporting Minds: Strategies at a Glance

Supporting Minds: Strategies at a Glance

The information guide provides an overview of common mental health issues. It includes suggestions for differentiated instructional strategies and/or accommodations.

 

ONE-CALL Desk Reference

ONE-CALL Desk Reference

A step-by-step approach to support students when they show signs of an emotional or behavioural issue

 

For students

Student visuals

Student visuals

With the help of Ontario secondary school students, we’ve put together youth-friendly materials for the classroom, or via social media, to help students understand more about anxiety and coping in relation to the pandemic.

 

No Problem Too Big or Too Small: student help-seeking resource

No Problem Too Big or Too Small: student help-seeking resource

This resource is designed to promote help-seeking and provides ideas and strategies for self-care for students. It was designed with input from Ontario secondary students.

 

Reaching Out

Reaching Out

Reaching Out is a tip sheet for students to support help-seeking by showcasing different ways to start the conversation with a trusted person and what to expect after reaching out.

 

Self-Care 101 for Students

Self-Care 101 for Students

Self-care is an important part of wellness and even more critical when we go through difficult and stressful times in our lives. This tip sheet provides information for students on how take care of themselves.

 

ThriveSMH on Instagram

ThriveSMH on Instagram

A student-led Instagram account developed by School Mental Health Ontario’s student reference group, ThriveSMH. @ThriveSMH offers weekly posts on coping and self-care strategies, help-seeking, relatable memes, and student-facing resources.

 

COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub

COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub

A hub of resources to help students to take care of themselves and others during this challenging time.


Featured classroom-ready resources

Class Conversation Starters

Class Conversation Starters

These conversation starters can be used to support a welcoming and caring learning environment that supports learning, wellness, and equitable outcomes for all students.

Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource (co-developed by ETFO)

Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource (co-developed by ETFO)

The Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource offers a collection of high-quality, everyday mental health practices to enhance students’ social and emotional skills. Use the view all and filter page to filter practices for virtual learning.

Faith and Wellness: A Daily Classroom Resource (co-developed by OECTA)

Faith and Wellness: A Daily Classroom Resource (co-developed by OECTA)

Faith and Wellness: A Daily Mental Health Resource offers a collection of high-quality, everyday mental health practices to enhance students’ social and emotional skills. These practices are rooted in the Catholic Faith. Use the view all and filter page to filter practices for virtual learning.

 

First Ten Days (and Beyond)

First Ten Days (and Beyond)

First Ten Days (and Beyond) was created for the start of the school year, but the information and activities are still relevant for now. The activities focus on relationships, connection and community. They are designed to help students ease into school routines.

 


Additional resources


What can I do if I notice a student might be struggling?

In the course of regular instruction, or when talking about mental health, you may notice that a student appears to be struggling with their emotions.  For example, they might appear upset or say they are feeling sad, afraid, alone, afraid, or worried (about COVID-19, food security, race related social tension/social and racial inequities/racism, housing,  caregiver’s health, life events, etc.) While you are not a mental health professional, YOU can help (see ONE-CALL Desk Reference for more information):

Connect (“You do not appear to be yourself today, you seem upset.  I am here to listen to you, do you want to talk?”)

Ask (“I will do all I can to support and help you and if I cannot I will find someone who can.  How can I help?”)

Listen (“I understand why you’re feeling this way.  I appreciate you sharing your story with me, I can understand why that would be upsetting because…”)

Link (“There are people who can help, let’s look at some options…”) Depending on the age and the area of needs, validate the importance of their voice in their plan of care.  In addition to formal mental health services, family supports, faith supports, racial and cultural community supports can be considered.

Be sure that students in your class are aware of how they can contact Kids Help Phone, 24/7, if they need to talk further. Display numbers prominently. Asking for help is skill we can teach, model, and encourage.

Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 or TEXT 686868

You are not alone

Your school, and school board, has a strong circle of mental health support.  All Ontario school boards have a mental health leader and superintendent with responsibility for mental health. Many have additional regulated school mental health professionals (social workers, psychologists, psychological associates, mental health nurses). Services may include mental health check-ins, counselling, consultation and/or suicide intervention.

Talk with your principal to know what services are available to students during virtual learning and how to initiate a consultation or referral. School regulated mental health professionals are there to support and consult with you. You are not alone. In addition, you can find names of the Children’s Mental Health organizations in your community.


Key messages to use with students about mental health and well-being

Here are some key messages related to mental health and well-being to refresh with students. You know your students best, and so these are starting points for conversations. Use your professional judgement to modify these statements in ways that are developmentally appropriate and contextualized to individual students’ lived experiences.

  • We know the transition to fully online learning is a hard one – we are here to help.
  • It is not unusual to feel worried, tired or sad right now because these are challenging times.
  • Mental health is a good thing! We all want to have good mental health for ourselves, our family, and our friends.
  • We can take care of our mental health, just like we take care of our physical health.
  • We can do this by eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, being active, and taking time to relax, have fun, and do some things that make us feel happy every day.
  • Remember that part of staying mentally well means connecting with others who share your interests, culture, identities, and values.
  • There are people who work in schools, and in our community, who are trained to help you to find ways to get through this so you can feel better.
  • If you are feeling unwell (e.g., overwhelmed, depressed, panicky), you can talk to me or another trusted adult.

Please take care of yourself

We recognize that these are difficult times for school and board staff. The pressure has been intense, all while you also experience the pandemic. We know that you are doing all you can to help your students through this. We hope that you can prioritize your wellness and mental health as well. Personal wellness looks different for everyone. There is no one way to maintain balance in the face of the challenges we are facing together. Taking time for you, to engage in self-care practices and maintain connections that help you to feel well, is so very important, and sets an excellent example for our students.  

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Personal Resiliency Tips During COVID-19

This tip sheet offers basic self-care reminders that may be helpful during this time.


Helpful links

National Association of School Psychologists
Parent tips, resources for schools and school mental health professionals

The Hope for Wellness Help Line
Mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada

Ministry of Education – Learn at home
Find supplementary resources for elementary and secondary students to practice math and literacy skills and learn at home

The First Peoples Wellness Circle has put together a resource with tips for First Nations parents and families on supporting mental wellness of children and young people in their communities.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Risk level for Canadians, current situation, travel advisories

Indigenous Services Canada
Information for Indigenous communities related to COVID-19 and available supports

Métis Nation of Ontario 
COVID-19 updates, information about culturally relevant mental health and addictions support

Government of Ontario
Ontario news, status of cases in Ontario – updated at 10:30 a.m. daily

World Health Organization
Technical documents, questions and answers

Mental Health Support for Indigenous Students
Supports for Indigenous Students