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Your Role

SMH professionals are a critical part of Ontario’s School Mental Health Strategy

Whether you’re a mental health leader, a manager of social work or psychological services, or a front-line school mental health professional, you serve a unique and vital role in the school system. You consult, assess, prevent, intervene and support.

Often, it’s you and your colleagues who serve our students when they are at their most vulnerable. Together, you provide the “safety net” that holds students when they require extra support and care at school—an essential part of Ontario’s school mental health strategy.

Working within a multi-tiered system of support

Some school mental health professionals work at tier one. They support educator mental health literacy, guide student-led mental health awareness and stigma-reduction initiatives, and provide classroom consultation.

School mental health professionals are particularly and uniquely qualified for work at tier two, including supporting early identification and assessment, prevention, and providing early intervention services.

As we move towards quality and consistency through structured psychotherapy approaches (like the Brief Intervention for School Clinicians and brief cognitive-behaviour therapy), even more emphasis will be placed on this critical role.

There will always be students who have more significant mental health needs. Many of these students will not access community resources. School mental health professionals also need to have professional competence in serving students with tier three needs, including more in-depth therapeutic interventions and crisis response.

The Aligned and Integrated Model or AIM is a triangle that shows the three tiers of student mental health support in Ontario.

You have a lasting impact on the students you work with directly, and together, through the systematic implementation of evidence-based programming across the continuum of service, we are helping to improve student mental health across Ontario.

You are part of a community of practice

Those of you who are part of Social Work or Psychological Services departments are part of a community of practice within your board. You learn together, share ideas, and work through issues arising as you serve students in your schools.

You are also part of our provincial community of practice, and we’re committed to ongoing learning together.

You can participate in in-person and online training to help you build your knowledge about specific topics related to student and school mental health, including clinical topics and how to provide support to educators and other staff who are working directly with students.

Explore the learning topics on our site or search the resources to find guides and other tools to support you in your role.

Use the site as a resource as you work with staff and colleagues. We also have information and resources for educators, parents, students and system and school leaders that you can access and share with others.

The role of Mental Health Leaders

Mental health leaders work with us to shape Ontario’s School Mental Health Strategy.

At the board level, they work alongside the superintendent with responsibility for mental health, and your board mental health leadership team, to create and implement your board mental health strategy and action plan. The board strategy is meant to align with Ontario’s School Mental Health Strategy. It highlights priorities within a common set of action pillars (e.g., learning and training for educators, equity and specific populations, youth and family engagement).

More recently, managers of social work and psychological services have joined this provincial community of practice and have brought their voices to conversations related to the multi-tiered service continuum and other strategic priorities.

Need help now?

We don’t provide mental health advice, counselling or treatment. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. You can also reach out to Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.