New student research provides priority of focus for school mental health delivery in Ontario
Students have a lot to say about mental health.
In 2021, School Mental Health Ontario partnered with Wisdom2Action (W2A) to relaunch #HearNowON to hear from secondary school students across Ontario about their priorities for mental health learning and programming in their school communities.
Three overarching questions were used to inform this initiative:
- What insights and ideas do secondary school students have for building and sustaining mental health knowledge and supports with and amongst their peers?
- How can school communities adopt an equity-based approach to mental health to support students impacted by racism, marginalization and/or oppression?
- What can inspire secondary students to get involved in provincial, board, and school-level initiatives that support student mental health and wellness?
The input from students through #HearNowON will inform provincial directions in school mental health, leaning into authentic and meaningful student engagement, leadership and agency in an area within which students have much to contribute.
Through an online survey and virtual forums, we gathered input form more than 2,400 secondary school students across the province.
The virtual forum themes were:
- Mental health literacy
- Equitable mental health
- Leadership opportunities in school mental health
- Supporting friends and accessing support
Based on the consultations, survey responses and suggestions gathered from students, five recommendations were identified:
Recommendation 1: Students want their teachers, and their parents/caregivers and families, to learn more about mental health.
Recommendation 2: Students want to learn about mental health at school, and prefer that this learning be frequent, early, and varied.
Recommendation 3: Students want greater access to tools and resources to support their mental health, cope with stress and navigate peer support safely.
Recommendation 4: Students want strong equity-based and culturally-responsive mental health resources and support.
Recommendation 5: Students want leadership opportunities to be more accessible to every student, and to create space for different leadership styles.
SMH-ON will use these recommendations with the help of ThriveSMH students and other key audiences to guide strategic directions, plans, and projects.
Thank you to all the students across Ontario that contributed their thoughts and perspectives on school mental health services and resources. Without your courageous sharing and expertise, #HearNowON would not be possible.
For more information about #HearNowON and insights, read the full report.