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Creating Welcoming School Environments for Newcomer Students

This tip sheet was developed to support school staff with creating welcoming and identity affirming school environments to foster the well-being of newcomer students.

How to support the mental health of newcomer students

A welcoming school climate and support from caring adults at school are both related to better emotional health in newcomer students.  

This tip sheet focuses on mental health promotion and proposes suggestions and reflection questions for all school staff to consider when co-creating  welcoming school environments and identity-affirming spaces for newcomer students.  

Why is this important?

When school staff practice cultural humility and centre the perspectives of newcomer students, they are better able to promote mentally healthy schools, engage authentically with newcomer students and provide meaningful support when needed.

How might I use this tool?

The information and reflection questions in this tip sheet could be used during a PD day, a staff meeting, or a family of schools meeting to increase dialogue and help enhance the capacity of various staff, e.g. administrators, educators, educational assistants, child and youth care practitioners, administrative assistants/clerical, caretakers, school mental health professionals, etc., to support newcomer well-being in schools.

The content of this tip sheet stemmed from a longer version developed in consultation with members of the Newcomer Working Group.


Emerson, S.D., Gagné Petteni, M., Guhn, M. et al. Social context factors and refugee children’s emotional health. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology 57, 829–841 (2022).

The content of this tip sheet stemmed from a longer version developed in consultation with members of the Newcomer Working Group.

Special thanks to:

Abrar Mechmechia, ABRAR Trauma and Mental Health Services
Alaa Khalaf, Peel District School Board
Derek Woodruff, Toronto District School Board
Doris Hincapie, Halton Catholic District School Board
Emily Goshulak, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Mary Agunsoye, Wellington Catholic District School Board
Sony Brar, Wellington Catholic District School Board
Yiching Chua, District School Board of Niagara

This shorter form version was developed in consultation with Camila Gonzalez, Senior CYC-P at Dufferin Peel Catholic DSB.