Mental health in schools: the Huron-Superior Commission has an app for that

Educators receive an update on student supports; Wednesday’s final reunion for outgoing director Rose Burton Spohn

Students facing mental health issues in schools is not a new phenomenon, but the need for mental health support has increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to the academic and social upheaval it has caused. caused to many children and adolescents.

Jared Lambert, mental health officer for the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (H-SCDSB), briefed board administrators and trustees on mental health services – new and existing – that are available to students during the monthly board meeting held on Wednesday.

Among the new services is MoodFit – a mental health app – which students can download and use to boost their mental health at their own pace, offering supports such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.

“We made this application available. We have purchased enough licenses for all of our grade 6+ students across the board and are really trying to encourage our students to use this app. It can also pair really well with any therapy they might be getting from a counselor,” Lambert said.

“It has a lot of features that we’re really confident about.”

“We believe this will be a great resource for students who may be struggling, including those who, despite experiencing difficulty, may not make the decision to seek counseling. So we’re very happy to be able to offer that.

For children under 6th grade, Lambert said there is a video library available to teachers that emphasizes the importance of physical activity while addressing topics such as self-esteem, tackling bullying and inclusivity.

Lambert pointed to research that shows:

  • By age 25, 20% of Canadians will have developed a mental illness
  • 70% of mental illnesses occur in childhood or adolescence
  • Young people aged 15 to 24 are the age group most likely to suffer from mental illness and/or addiction
  • After accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds

This puts school boards in a good position to support mental health, Lambert said.

“Pupils are well taken care of at school. Our staff are able to observe the functioning of their students and because they monitor them day to day, they can see some of the changes that might occur in these students. If suddenly a student presents a little differently from day to day, if their mood or behavior has changed, schools and educators are in a great vantage point to pick them up,” Lambert said.

“Integrating these supports into schools plays a vital role in the provincial mental health and addictions strategy. Integrating these supports into schools helps break down the barriers that keep these vulnerable students and families from receiving the services they need. This early intervention is so important with a number of these challenges and I think the ministry, the government are realizing more and more that school is the right place to provide these things…school is a natural place and sure to deploy a lot of these supports.

Counselors have been embedded in schools, working alongside educators.

“Their services are much sought after in all the schools in the board,” Lambert said.

There has been an expansion of services in recent years, with new positions added to the council’s mental health team.

The availability of counseling services increased to five days a week at St. Basil’s Catholic Elementary School this year, and St. Mary’s College (SMC) now has three counselors available.

“Each day the school should have at least two of these counselors on site (at SMC) and that goes a long way when you have such a large school and you have the age range in high school where the needs can become more complex,” Lambert said.

Counseling services will continue this summer, while virtual counseling is available for remote schools in the Huron-Superior system, Lambert said.

Direct counseling forms the bulk of the work of mental health workers in the council’s schools, with presentations also given to entire classes on mental health and wellbeing topics.

Educators and students have expressed a desire for these services and information sessions to be offered in schools, Lambert said.

“Canadian research indicates that children in these schools really want this information. They want to have it in their schools,” Lambert told the council.

Wednesday’s board meeting was also the last for H-SCDSB’s outgoing education director Rose Burton Spohn.

Burton Spohn expressed gratitude for the Board’s support of her work as superintendent and director, while superintendents and trustees expressed gratitude for her leadership, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic .

In 2013, H-SCDSB hired Burton Spohn as the superintendent of education responsible for secondary programming, online learning, alternative learning, and oversight of the family of schools at the H-SCDSB. Where is.

She was named Director of Education in 2017.

Burton Spohn’s retirement is effective March 31, 2022.

Superintendent Danny Viotto will become the board’s new director of education.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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