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Mental Health & Well-Being
Mental health is essential for achievement, success and well-being. We know that both children and adults learn, live and bounce back from life’s challenges better when mentally healthy. Individuals are more likely to thrive and flourish when mental health is understood, supported by our community and prioritized. We also know that our overall health or well-being improves when we are mentally healthy or supported to become mentally healthy. As the World Health Organization states, there is no health without mental health.
But, what exactly is mental health? Despite the fact that mental health is essential to our individual and collective success and well-being, mental health is not well understood or well supported in our society and there is a lot of misinformation circulating through media.
The good news is that as part of renewed public education efforts, a shared language for mental health is developing that is positive, accurate, inclusive and holistic, integrating the mind, body, emotions and spirit. The language acknowledges that mental health is a shared responsibility and that we each have a role to play in supporting our individual and collective mental health and well-being.
Watch this engaging six-minute educational video to learn more about what mental health is, how it relates to and is different from mental illness and what we can each do to support our mental health and the mental health of our community:
Mental Health & Education – A New Era in Ontario
The Ontario government launched Open Minds, Healthy Minds in 2011. This is a 10 year strategy to raise public awareness and understanding of mental health and improve mental health outcomes for all Ontarians – children, youth and adults.
The Strategy introduces a new, defined role for the Ministry of Education in child and youth mental health promotion, prevention and intervention. Schools are recognized as ideal places to promote positive mental health for all students, implement prevention initiatives and programs to offset risk factors for mental health problems and aid early intervention efforts by connecting students and families experiencing mental health problems to community services and supports.
In Achieving Excellence, A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario, the Ministry elevates student well-being to one of the core pillars of Ontario Education and operationalizes educational outcomes as: All children and students will develop enhanced mental and physical health, a positive sense of self and belonging, and the skills to make positive choices.
To learn more about Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education, watch this quick video.
Mental Health & Catholic Education – A Holistic Approach
Through our Catholic Teachings, Thunder Bay Catholic Schools has a solid, established 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 service as the foundation for nurturing positive mental health and well-being. We recognize that the promotion of student mental health and well-being 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. The rationale is straight-forward. It is important that school boards have mental health leadership to build internal capacity, implement needed supports and programs and work closely and effectively with community and provincial mental health organizations.
School Mental health is a shared responsibility within our board. Our Mental Health Leader works closely with senior administration, special education, schools, community mental health and substance use programs and School Mental Health ASSIST, the Ministry of Education’s provincial 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.