Mental Health & Well-Being

Mental Health & Catholic Education – A Holistic Approach

Through our Catholic Teachings, Thunder Bay Catholic Schools has a solid foundation for supporting Student Mental Health and Well-being. As Catholics, we understand that the mind, body, emotions and spirit are integrated and inter-connected.

Our Catholic Values and Virtues are central to supporting the growth and development of the whole child and serve as the foundation for nurturing positive mental health and well-being. We recognize that this is a shared responsibility, in partnership with the home, Church and community.

Thunder Bay Catholic Schools adopts the Public Health Agency of Canada 2006 definition of Positive Mental Health to guide our work.

Positive mental health is defined as the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.

Mental Health Leadership

Since 2011, the Ministry of Education has been funding Mental Health Leaders in provincial school boards. Mental Health Leaders are full-time senior mental health professionals with dedicated responsibility for supporting student mental health and well-being strategic planning and implementation. School Mental health is a shared responsibility within our Catholic Board. Our Mental Health Leader works closely with Senior Administration, Special Education, Catholic schools and community mental health and substance use programs and networks. Provincially, the Mental Health Lead works closely with School Mental Health ASSIST, the Ministry of Education’s implementation support team. More About School Mental Health ASSIST

Student Mental Health Counselling & Support Services

School-based mental health counselling services are available to students in our Catholic Schools. Counselling services are brief (time-limited) and focus on addressing immediate needs or issues that may be impacting school functioning.

School mental health professionals work alongside or within school well-being teams consisting of Administrators, Special Education Teachers / Staff, Guidance Counsellors, Indigenous Counsellors, Chaplains and Attendance Counsellors.

Mental health counsellors in our board are regulated professionals who hold a Master’s degree in Social Work or other counselling profession. Services are made available to students largely through service contracts and memorandums of understanding with community mental health partner organizations.

Children’s Centre Thunder Bay (C.C.T.B) Catholic Schools Counselling Services

Thunder Bay Catholic Schools has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Children’s Centre Thunder Bay (C.C.T.B) for student mental health counselling services.

High Schools

St Ignatius and St Patrick each have a full-time, dedicated C.C.T.B School Mental Health Counsellor on-site throughout the academic year. Access is through the Guidance Department.

Senior Elementary Schools

A C.C.T.B Mental Health Counsellor provides school-based counselling services to students at Pope John Paul II School two days a week during the academic year. Bishop Gallagher and Bishop EQ Jennings Schools each have CCTB counselling services for students one day a week throughout the academic year. Access is through Administration or Guidance.

K-6 Schools

C.C.T.B school-based brief mental health counselling and support services are available to 12 of our 15 elementary schools. Schools identify students who may benefit from additional counselling support at school, consult parents/guardians and if in agreement, schools initiate the referral process by completing a board referral form.The board then arranges for a CCTB school mental health counsellor to follow-up and see the child at school during school hours.

For more information, contact the Board Mental Health Leader at (807) 625-1538.

Positive Connections Elementary Program

The Positive Connections Program is currently offered in three elementary schools: St Jude, St Martin and St Vincent. Schools share access to a dedicated school-based social worker who helps connect mental health to learning through:

  • in-class and school-wide positive mental health and mindfulness education
  • consultation and coaching support to staff
  • school-based counselling and referral services for students/families

The Program aims to build mentally healthier schools through capacity building, implementation of best practices in school mental health and collaborations with home and community partners.

For more information contact the School Principal or the Board Mental Health Leader at (807) 625-1538.

Mental Health & Addictions Nurse Program

Through a memorandum of understanding with the Northwest LHIN, our board has access to a school-based Mental Health & Addictions Nurse (MHAN). The MHAN provides specialist mental health support to our board and works alongside other school staff and board mental health professionals. The MHAN supports students transitioning from hospital to community and back to school, helps with medication questions or concerns, connects students and families to community specialist services and provides support to students at school experiencing acute mental health concerns.

Learn More About This Program

Attendance Counsellors

School attendance is important to learning, achievement, social-emotional development and future success. We know from research that school connection –attendance and sense of belonging and acceptance at school – is a key protective factor for child and youth mental health and well-being.

The Board employs two Attendance Counsellors who:

  • Work to engage students persistently absent from school
  • Help identify and reduce barriers to school attendance l
  • Help identify and put in place classroom/school approaches or resources needed to improve family/student engagement and attendance
  • Look out for the safety, welfare and well-being of students who are not attending school
  • Work closely with families, the board and schools, mental health and social service organizations, child welfare and youth justice sector.
  • Are registered with the Ontario Association of Counsellors and Attendance Services (O.A.C.A.S).

Glenda Carleton

Tel: (807) 625-1586

  • Holy Family
  • St. Francis
  • St. Jude
  • St. Martin
  • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • St. Vincent
  • St. Margaret
  • St. Pius X
  • Bishop E.Q. Jennings
  • St. Patrick

Todd Perrier

Tel: (807) 625-1545

  • St. Ann
  • St. Elizabeth
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Corpus Christi
  • Holy Cross
  • Our Lady of Charity
  • St. Bernard
  • St. Paul
  • Bishop Gallagher
  • St. Ignatius

Accessing Mental Health Support and Services in the Community: Quick Access, No Cost

A key role in supporting mental health intervention is to help students and families experiencing mental health problems connect to the right service in the community. Click on the link to see a list of quick access, no cost community crisis services (24/7), walk-in counseling services and telephone mental health support options:

Parent and School Community Mental Health Information Sheet

Community mental health services offer a broader array of service options than what can be offered within school settings. School based mental health counseling services primarily support student functioning at school through brief, skill-based interventions. When needs go beyond what can be addressed in the school, community mental health services offer the right setting and the right expertise.

Community mental health services are:

  • Brief or longer-term depending on needs being addressed
  • Better able to accommodate family involvement
  • Structured to support children, youth and families experiencing difficulties in school and areas of life beyond school.
  • More comprehensive than school-based services and with the support of a diverse team approach including access to specialists when needed
  • Delivered within a therapeutic setting matched to need. Settings can be clinical or office-based, home-based or in the case of complex needs, hospital or residential.
  • Offer more choice and more options

Need Help Now?

Emergency & Crisis Services:

In a mental health emergency, safety is the immediate concern and help is needed now. Call 911 or go to the hospital emergency department.

Crisis phone lines offer urgent help any time of the day, evening or night:

C.M.H.A Thunder Bay Crisis Response Service (346-8282)

Mental health telephone crisis intervention support and information is available 24/7. If face to face support is needed, mobile outreach is available from 3:00pm to 11:00pm. Anyone can call - children, youth, adults.

For on-line information:

Talk4Healing: Help Line for Aboriginal Women living in Northern Ontario


Help line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Talk4Healing offers services in English, Ojibway,

Oji-Cree & Cree. You can call the help line from anywhere in northern Ontario.
For on-line information:

© Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board 2019