Mental Health & Wellbeing

Welcome to the WCDSB Mental Health and Wellness page!  You can find resources here to grow your knowledge on mental health topics, learn a variety of daily wellness practices that can help you manage stress, get connected when additional supports are needed, and learn about how WCDSB is promoting wellness in our school communities.

Wellbeing During COVID-19

thumbnail_image059We understand how difficult the transition to remote learning and back again can be for students, parents/ caregivers and staff. We are here to help. We continue to prioritize mental health and well-being through a range of classroom supports and board professional services.  We will continue to make our way together, schools are a part of a circle of support for students, both in-person and virtually. You are not alone. If you become concerned about your child’s mental health, it is good to seek help. Your child’s teacher or principal can help direct you to services in the school, board, or community. You may also wish to consult with your family physician or can connect directly with a community mental health agency near you. When more immediate help is needed, the Help Lines below can offer help. One of the most important things you can do is prioritize and protect your own mental health. Caring for your own wellness, and seeking support when you need to, is one way to help your child to stay mentally healthy.

On this page you can find a variety of links resources to promote wellness – both during the pandemic, and also more general resources that can be promote positive mental health in our school communities. For those of you who might be interested in a deeper dive into concrete activities that can support student mental health during the pandemic & the “return to school”, visit these School Mental Health Ontario Covid-19 resource pages. Select the link below that best fits your role in our school communities.

Return to SchoolAre you looking for more information about supporting a mentally healthy return to school in Fall 2021-22? Check out the https://www.wcdsb.ca/return-to-school/ page!

Start Well

Start Well

Five days of ready to use activities to connect, calm and begin your day

The recent response to COVID-19 has once again altered learning routines and locations, causing stress for both you as an educator, as well as students and families. Many have mixed feelings about the continued uncertainties related to the pandemic and what this may mean in the coming weeks. As an educator, you won’t be able to take away the stressors your students feel, but you may be able to help to minimize their impact. You can also remind students about strategies that can help them to cope.

It can be difficult to develop new and creative activities while managing the logistics of these recent changes. This resource is designed to help you start your day, whether virtual or in-person, in a good way while supporting students as they navigate and understand this unique transition back to school. Included are 5 days of ready to use learning activities designed to promote connection and calm and give you a chance as an educator to catch your breath. Each activity is designed to take approximately 15 minutes in total and can be used at the start of your day or following a transition in your day.

The pandemic continues to magnify deep-rooted economic, social and racial inequities. These have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and in particular, Black, Indigenous, and racialized individuals. The teaching and learning approach must consider and address the lived realities, racial and other disparities and educator biases that can impact students’ experiences in Ontario schools.

We hope they will provide both you and your students, an opportunity to explore strategies that they can use when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Each of us is unique and strategies that work for some might not work for others, and that is okay. Try a new activity each day. Included with the classroom activities are some simple extension activities for use at home by parents and caregivers. These activities were designed to support virtual learning environments and are also appropriate for in person learning.

CLICK HERE to download Start-Well package

Educators

Parents and Families

Students

We all have a role to play in promoting positive mental health in our school communities. To learn more general information about what you can do (not specific to Covid), select that category that fits you best & check out the broader range of resources from School Mental Health Ontario”

https://smho-smso.ca/

 

School and System Leaders

Educators

Students

Parents and Families

SMH Professionals

Other School Roles

Some examples of what you will find…

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Mentally Healthy Return
news and updates smho
supporting mentally healthy conversation
MH LIT Student Mental Health in Action
class conversation starters

Daily Practices to Promote Wellness

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Incorporating calming activities into your day – even if only for a few minutes – can make a huge difference in your experience of stress & how you respond to challenges.

There is no one-sized-fits-all approach – what works for you might not work for others.  And what works when you’re only a little bit stressed may be very different from what works for you when you’re feeling very overwhelmed.  Below are some examples of relaxation activities. Give them a try and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you like something reflective where a narrator is coaching you?
  • Do you prefer something with just music?  White noise?
  • Does it help you breathe slowly and deeply if someone sets the pace for you?  If not, set your own pace – try to increase the “space between your breaths” without actually holding your breath.  Try to slow it down at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
  • Does it help you to have a visual image guiding your pace of breathing?
  • Do your muscles get tense when you’re feeling stressed? Does Progressive Muscle Relaxation help you with that?

Mixed race pupils meditating in lotus position on desk in classr

Make note of how you feel in your brain/body/mood before, during, and after these activities.

Better yet, participate in a wellness challenge (over a day? A week? A month?), and commit to spending a set period of time each day (2 minutes? 5 minutes? 10? More?) to engage in a wellness practice proactively.  Reflect on your mood over this period of time, and if you are observing a change in your experiences of stress.

Many people will struggle to direct their attention towards a mindfulness activity for a set period of time, and will find their thoughts wandering towards to-do lists and worries. Your brain is like a muscle. Start small! You will get better at it. Every time you catch your mind wandering and can rejoin the activity is a step in the right direction.

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If you or someone you care about is struggling, you are not alone.

There are services online and in our community that can provide support. Please follow these links for more information:

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  • For more wellbeing resources specific to distance learning please visit the Wellness tab on the St Isidore website.

WCDSB Educator Classroom Resource Cheat Sheet (Staff-only)

Staff can use your board email account to access this Google Doc: https://bit.ly/30Mf62x

Would you like to learn more about mental health? 

These resources are to help parents, students and members of the community to better understand mental health and mental illness, support well-being for yourself, your family and your child(ren), and find community services when the need arises.

Mental health is a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” (World Health Organization)

Mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness. It is a sense of emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being that enables us to meet the opportunities and challenges of life with a sense of confidence and hope.

We support student mental health and well-being by building capacity to:

  • Promote positive mental health for all students
  • Reduce stigma
  • Build student socio-emotional learning skills
  • Identify students who may be experiencing mental health problems
  • Build pathways to care and support services in the community

This CAMH video explains the separate but interconnected concepts of mental health and mental illness, as well as what it means to ‘promote mental health’, in ourselves, in our schools, and in our communities.

Growing Mentally Healthy Schools

We strive to be a leader in championing the importance of mental health and well-being of students and staff, and consistently demonstrate a commitment to fostering safe and inclusive learning environments. We believe that supporting mental health and well-being is essential for development and learning and is an enabler for academic success.

Our annual plan and broader longer-term strategy for promoting wellness in our system are articulated here:

This work is informed by a provincial mental health strategy through School Mental Health Ontario.  Everyone plays an important role in promoting positive mental health, please follow the links below for resources and ideas about how you can support this work!

Digital Citizenship for Parents – Innovate (wcdsb.ca)

A Comprehensive Approach to Wellbeing

Wellness has many dimensions in addition to mental health. Take a look at our Pray@Home page for ideas and resources that can help us promote wellbeing from a spiritual lens https://wcdsblearnathome.wcdsb.ca/pray-at-home/, our Equity & Diversity page for more information on how we promote inclusion and belonging for all students https://www.wcdsb.ca/about-us/equity-diversity-learning-committee/, and also consider how our physical health impacts our mood and overall wellbeing. Follow us all on Twitter to learn more about what’s happening in our board across all these interconnected areas of wellbeing!

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@wcdsbwellness

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@wcdsbsocialwork