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.
students reflect a wide range of intersecting social and cultural identities,
including and not limited to ancestry, race, culture, gender identity &
expression, geographic location, language, mental health and well-being,
physical and intellectual ability, religion, sexual orientation, and
socio-economic status. These factors can contribute to the development of a
positive sense of self and offer important tools for resilience. They may also
be negatively targeted, resulting in significant injustices and inequalities
that students experience every day.
of discrimination and oppression creates and reinforces barriers to equitable
mental health outcomes. For example, discrimination can increase levels of
stigmatization and trauma, and can decrease access to appropriate school-based
mental health services.
health is a positive sense of well-being is influenced by factors including personal
experiences and the social, cultural and economic conditions across our
lifespan, often referred to as the social determinants of (mental) health. ‘’A person’s
mental health and …common disorders are shaped by various social, economic,
and physical environments operating at different stages of life. Risk factors
for many common mental disorders are heavily associated with social
inequalities, whereby the greater the inequality the higher the inequality in
risk.’’ (World Health Organization and
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2014).
The role of the SMH professional
health professionals play an important role in working with system and school
leaders, and school staff, from an anti-oppressive stance to promote equity and
inclusion for all students. You help to address the barriers that reinforce
marginalization and oppression and to ensure that school mental health services
are culturally and socially responsive to the unique mental health and
well-being needs of each student and family.
Tips for SMH professionals for culturally responsive practice in school mental
(adapted from J.M. Jones Best Practices in Providing Culturally
Explore and examine your
own identity, culture, beliefs, values and attitudes.
self-awareness and cultural literacy.
Understand how to support
students with personal and cultural identities that are different than your own.
Engage with the student
and their family to learn more about their identities, cultures, beliefs,
traditions and values.
Build relationships with
teachers, principals and other school staff to learn about the students and the
school community (e.g. cultural and socio-economic).
Identify and connect
students to culturally relevant school supports, inclusive clubs and safe
spaces (protective factors).
Identify & connect
students to culturally relevant community supports, inclusive clubs and safe
spaces (protective factors).
Advocate for culturally
relevant school supports, inclusive clubs and safe spaces where these do not
Build relationships with
professionals and community leaders/key stakeholders to consult about specific
local cultural norms, traditional practices and protocols (e.g. considerations
for group work).
Offer and access
translators to facilitate communication with students and families
Explore & address
potential barriers and microaggressions that students may be experiencing due
Explore and build on
student’s internal and external strengths within the context of their
often-intersecting identities and cultures.
Engage the student and
their family to establish and access a circle of support that is culturally
relevant and meaningful.
Remember that stronger positive connections to language and culture
are an important part of intervention.
Over the past few years, SMHO has embarked on a learning journey in collaboration with key experts to better understand the students we serve and the supports required to help them access mental health and well-being in meaningful and culturally responsive ways.
We will continue to build this suite of materials to assist you. Explore the topics below. Please contact us to suggest other topics that may be of interest, or if you would like to access any webinars on the topics below.
Early Years Student Mental Health
Immigrant, Refugee, Newcomer and Ethnocultural Student Mental Health
Indigenous Student Mental Health
LGBTQ2S+ Student Mental Health
Equity and Mental Health Reference
Our Equity and Mental Health Reference Group includes representatives from across the province. Together, they support our resource development, initiatives, and future action planning. Get involved! Contact us for more information.
Have a question about this topic?
us. We can
review relevant research to help to answer your question. In cases where several requests focus on the
same theme, we can arrange for a more comprehensive review which will be shared
on the School Mental Health Ontario site.
Suggest a topic
We will continue to expand our resources based on input. Please send us your ideas for topics to cover so we can meet your professional learning needs.