Mental Health & Well-Being
We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health and dental health. Mental health is one component of overall health.
The World Health Organization defines Mental Health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and, is fruitfully able to make a contribution to his or her community."
Mental Illness is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour associated with significant distress and impaired functioning. Examples are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, etc. (Public Health Agency of Canada).
It is helpful to think of mental health and mental illness as separate but interconnected concepts on a continuum.
See the video "Promoting Mental Health: Finding A Shared Language" for further information.
At Avon Maitland District School Board we use a tiered approach to mental health and well-being.
"There is a clear relationship between student mental health difficulties and academic achievement. AMDSB plays an important role in supporting mental health and wellness for our students. At our Board we promote mental well-being through everyday mental health practices, build student socio-emotional learning skills, and have various prevention supports for students at risk. We offer mental health and addictions professional development, try and identify students struggling with mental health issues, and refer students in need to our internal support staff and/or to our community mental health service partners. A key component to student well-being, though, is the caring educators and their genuine connection to students. This is why the well-being of our staff is also very important."
-Dr. Anne Robinson, AMDSB Mental Health Lead
You Matter in AMDSB!
YOU MATTER: A Mental Health and Well–Being Symposium was held for 150 students from AMDSB schools in grades 7-12 on November 26, 2019. Students who worked with our Mental Health researchers in the 2018-19 school year told us they were not sure about the school or community supports to assist them with mental health challenges. November 26th was all about recognizing the supports in schools and our Huron and Perth communities, and reminding students they matter!
Presenter Fahd Alhattab told students, “Life is full of the choices we make... they make all of the difference in my life and in the years to come. The choices we make matter.” Sharing stories of growing up, Fahd spoke to the importance of resiliency, and of feeling like we belong while making others feel like they belong! Students heard Be There, a presentation by Jack.org that helps students recognize when their peers are struggling, and how to seek help from professionals. The Mental Health Team researchers from Queens and Western worked with students to create a mosaic and showcase the work celebrating mental health and well-being in their schools. Mike Masse spoke of mindfulness – taking time to slow down and be calm.
Students worked in their school teams to determine how their voices will be heard in mental health and well-being activities in their schools, and how they will monitor impact. Eco-Exeter was present to remind us of the need to make choices to protect our environment.
Many thanks to AMDSB’s Mental Health Team and Communication Department, Rural Response and Tanner Steffler Foundation’s Trillium Grant, and to all of our community partners for being present to support students on this day.
Let’s Talk About Gratitude
Gratitude is a practice where one actively expresses appreciation and thankfulness. It allows us to be aware of the present moment and enjoy the aspects of our lives that are going well. According to research, a practice of gratitude can improve your emotional well-being by helping you cope with stress and negative thinking. (https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/
At the YOU MATTER symposium we asked students and community partners to practice gratitude and to help us build a gratitude tree. We wanted our gratitude tree to be a visual representation of what is appreciated as a community. Some of the things that were included on the tree were: family, food, friendships, pets, healthcare, having clean water, going to school, and sports. Are these things that you are also grateful for?
At the end of last school year, we asked schools to review their OurSchool Student Survey data. What did students tell us about attending our schools? Do they feel safe? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel valued? School staffs completed a Leading Mentally Healthy Schools Reflection Survey to self-assess the criteria for a mentally healthy school and to determine where they might focus for the 2019-20 school year.
We realized that often, we take each other for granted. We expect students and staff to know they matter. We expect students and staff to feel like they belong because we think they belong. Unfortunately, we may not take the time to tell people how much we value them and we might not take the time to find out if students feel like they belong!
In an effort to remind all of our students and staff that THEY MATTER, our school doors proudly display a decal to remind everyone when they enter our buildings that they matter. We want them to feel a sense of belonging here in AMDSB!
AMDSB Mental Health Newsletters for Families
AMDSB Community Partners in Mental Health
- Choices for Change
- Huron Hospice
- Huron Perth Centre for Children & Youth
- Huron Perth Helpline and Crisis Response Team
- Huron Perth Public Health
- Huron Safe Homes for Youth
- Huron Women’s Shelter
- Local Health Integration Network
- My Journey Program (Health System Navigation) in partnership with the Huron Community Family Health Team
- Ontario Provincial Police/Stratford Police
- Rural Response for Healthy Children
- Family Health Teams
- Stratford/Perth ShelterLink/Victim Services of Huron County
- AMDSB Staff EAP (Moreau Shapell): 1-800-387-4765
- CAMH - Growing Up Resilient
- CAMH - Raising Resilient Children
- Nine Things All Children Need to Be Resilient
- Ministry of Education - Bullying Awareness and Prevention
- Canadian Red Cross - Definitions of Bullying and Harassment
- PREVNet - What Parents Need to Know
- The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connections is Key by Dr. Jean Clinton
- Flipping Your Lid - Science of Emotional Dysregulation
- How to Spot Signs of Mental Health Concerns in Children
- Resiliency - Learning to Weather Tough Times
- Self Injury Guide for Parents & Caregivers
- Children and Youth Mental Health: Signs & Symptoms
Let's All strive for Positive Mental Health