Prairie Post (East Edition)

Initial focus is on resiliency for mental health within school division


“This year we're focusing on resiliency and the areas within that, and it's made a big difference even already. We started the year off focusing on belonging and we really wanted to make students feel welcome and we wanted to support parents in that too.”

This year's response plan will address four areas, namely individual supports for students and teachers, classroom supports, school and division supports, as well as family and community supports.

“We've really tried to reach out to the community in the last couple of years and it's really worked out well,” he said.

It was felt that resiliency will be an appropriat­e focus of support activities provided in the four areas of the plan due to the impact of the pandemic and the change experience­d when student return to school from online learning or homeschool­ing.

A family connection project was therefore started to connect with families in a supportive manner even before the school year started. The intention was to ask families what the school division can do to support the learning of their children.

“It's made a big difference and it was very positive,” he said about the outcome of the project.

A total of 330 calls were made, of which 250 calls were to families of students with high absence rates, 62 calls were to families of Cyber School students who were returning to in-person learning, and 18 calls were to home-based families.

Chinook was unable to connect with 23 families on the call list, but the overall response to these calls were encouragin­g. Families appreciate­d the call and they felt supported.

A mental health profession­al developmen­t module was delivered to teachers and administra­tors during the opening days of the new school year.

It provided them with skills to identify students at risk who might need additional supports through counsellin­g or other activities.

The school division created a FunBlast project to help schools to reach the goal of creating a sense of belonging among students.

The FunBlast activity will take place during an arranged visit to schools, which involve students in game activities and provide opportunit­ies for discussion about supports that are available.

Various other steps are being taken by the school division to support the mental health and wellbeing response plan. Mental health first aid training is provided to at least one person in every school, there will be additional profession­al developmen­t based on needs identified by schools, and the mental wellness course will be offered across the division to students through the Cyber School.

A survey of Grade 10-12 students on various areas of mental health and wellness will take place during November and December.

This will be the second year that such a high school survey will be carried out in the school division.

It will provide useful informatio­n to schools and counsellor­s to assist them in making improvemen­ts to support services provided to students.

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