Mental health may seem like a new area of focus in schools,
but we’ve always supported students who struggle with their emotions and
behaviour at school. What’s new is the use of evidence-based techniques
implemented systematically across the tiers of intervention.
As a school leader, you can help to connect the dots between
this new focus on mental health, and familiar related work on developing safe,
healthy, inclusive learning environments, supporting equity, and promoting
student achievement. An integrated approach will help you build a strong
Tiered interventions look similar across these domains. When viewed this way, opportunities for
For example, it’s easy to imagine how welcoming and inclusive
practices designed to enhance equity raise the bar for mental health and
academic learning as well.
And when targeted programming for students with mental health problems recognizes the important role of the social determinants of health, the student experience is better reflected in the service provided.
Perhaps most importantly, when we understand how special
education needs and/or marginalization impact on mental health, and vice versa,
services can be tailored to address needs more effectively.
Make the links across related initiatives, like Safe
Schools, Healthy Schools, Equity and Inclusive Education, Student Success,
mental health, and student, parent and family engagement in your school or
Draw leaders together across these domains to consider joint, rather than unintentionally competing, projects and initiatives. For example, if you’re planning a survey in one area, consider adding items related to another domain rather than developing a separate survey.
Collaboratively decide on a small number of time-limited non-overlapping initiatives so as not to overwhelm staff or students.
Align the work in mental health with the wider board and/or school improvement plan.
Help your team see the connections between different initiatives.