As an educator, you have a significant influence on
students’ lives. The relationships you develop with students aren’t just about
academics. You’re a trusted and caring adult, and an ideal person to help them
to learn about and care for their mental health.
Positive mental health is
foundational to academic achievement, life skills, and overall well-being. The
efforts you make to support your students’ mental health will have an impact
now and in the future.
Our approach to school mental health in Ontario includes
The first level –
tier 1 – is good for all – this is where the bulk of your influence is.
It’s the foundational everyday work you do to welcome and include students, to
understand them and build your knowledge of mental health, to promote mentally
healthy habits and to partner with parents, students and other staff to create
a supportive environment.
When you create a safe, welcoming, inclusive classroom, and
teach all students how to maintain good mental health, not only are you
equipping all students with skills and sense of belonging, you are helping to
prevent the onset of new problems amongst your students, or perhaps keeping
existing illnesses from getting worse.
The second level – tier 2 – is necessary for some because, in every class and school, there will be some students who may need additional support. Early identification and prevention services can make a critical difference for a student who is having difficulty with their thoughts, behaviour, or emotions. Educators have a role in helping to identify students in need of more support, and in reinforcing helpful skills and strategies in the classroom.
School mental health professionals, like school social
workers, psychologists, and psychological associates are particularly
well-positioned to provide additional preventive services, like structured
psychotherapy, at this level. Others, like guidance and student success
teachers, or child and youth workers, can also play a supportive role for
students in need of additional care.
and student success teachers
You serve a unique role within your school. In addition to the materials in the Educator section of our site, you may also find some of the materials in School and System Leaders helpful, especially if you’re part of the Mental Health Leadership Team at your school.
It’s possible your colleagues will turn to you for advice. Make sure you know how to access support for your students.
The third level – tier 3 – is essential for few. Students with more significant mental health problems need access to more intensive support, through school mental health professionals regulated with a professional college (psychology or social work staff) and/or via assessment and treatment in a community/health service setting. Learn more about how you can help students who are receiving tier 2 and 3 supports.
As an educator, you’ll stay involved at all levels because you’re part of the student’s Circle of Support. We cover your role and the tiered model in detail in our online course.
The Aligned and Integrated Model or AIM is a triangle with three equal sides that shows the three levels of student mental health support in Ontario. The bottom of the trangle is the Foundation and includes school and classroom leadership. It’s divided into the following five sections:
Welcome – school and classroom physical environments
Include – student engagement and belonging
Understand – Mental health literacy and knowing your students
Promote – Curriculum, teaching and learning
Partner – Home, school, community partnerships
The second level is Notice and represents early identification. It’s divided into the following three segments:
Prevent – Provide early intervention services
Support – Offer ongoing classroom support
Bolster – Build skills and resiliency
The third level is the top of the triangle. It is Bridge and represents mobilizing board and community supports. It includes one segment:
Intervene – Assessment and treatment services The words equity, engagement and evidence appear around the graphic.