Director of Learning Support Services Brenna Ewing and District Healthy Schools Coordinator Drew Williams presented school board trustees with a snap shot of the mental health and wellness framework at the public board meeting on Tuesday, May 3.
The presenters were swift to acknowledge the work happening across the school district at all levels of the organization to promote mental health and mental health supports.
As part of the board’s second strategic priority for 2019-2023, Ewing and Williams were tasked with creating a framework that will help to clarify and promote wellness across the district and, by extension, the community.
Ewing said the effort has been wide ranging.
“We were speaking with counsellors, and indigenous youth care workers, as well as consulting with principals and vice principals,” she said.
They also used the student learning evidence report, mental health literacy surveys completed by staff, consultations with Foundry, and the McCreary Centre Society report to come up with a clear picture of the district’s standing.
Four priority areas outlined in the mental health and wellness framework are: mental health promotion to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma of mental concerns or illness; understanding mental health (mental health literacy); supporting caring school communities; and community and connection to strengthen and extend partnerships with parents and community agencies.
“We’re really fortunate to work in a highly collaborative community,” Ewing said.
The framework sets a multi-tiered approach that identifies mental health and wellness education for all students and more targeted supports depending on increasing need, including when community agencies are to be involved. The focus for this school year has been on the first tier, general education for all students.
They continued by providing a brief description and snapshot of some of the work that has been happening in the district around mental health and wellness, speaking to compassionate systems leadership, professional development on mindfulness and movement, the Phoenix Wellness Journal, and programs such as Second Step, Kids in the Know and Zones.
The mental health framework will be available for download from the district website within the next couple of weeks.
SD72 Chairperson John Kerr praised the efforts of the team.
“In our district, as well as many other districts, the kind of work you’re doing is absolutely crucial,” he said. “With the stresses that come from all sorts of things from pandemic to economic disruption, a lot of children in our system are going through some real disruptions.
“If the work you’re doing can help kids become more resilient towards the difficulties they’re facing, that’s really a good use of our effort and focus.”
Helpline numbers and resources for BC:
Crisis lines across BC can be found on www.crisislines.bc.ca
Online service for adults: http://crisiscentrechat.ca/
Online service for youths: www.YouthinBC.com
Mental health support/ Centre for suicide prevention : 310-6789 (no area code needed)
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre caters to parents, caregivers, youth and young adults. Compass Mental Health : 1-855-702-7272 email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Youth Line: 647-694-4275
First Nations Health Authority, Native youth crisis hotline: 1-877-209-1266; Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366.