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CDSBEO Well-Being Strategy

The Ministry of Education recognizes the value and need of incorporating the concept of well-being into Ontario schools. When students don’t feel as though they are safe, or that they belong, learning becomes very difficult. Last year, the Ministry released a new Well-Being Strategy for Ontario students that emphasizes the relationships between equity and inclusion, safe and accepting schools, healthy schools and positive mental health. The CDSBEO has reviewed its own initiatives and programs and created a personalized CDSBEO Well-Being Strategy which aligns with that of the Ministry of Education.

Michelle Neville, CDSBEO Mental Health Lead explained how the CDSBEO has implemented various initiatives to promote student well-being.

“The Well-Being Strategy encompasses four main areas: Healthy Schools, Positive Mental Health, Equity and Inclusive Education and Safe and Accepting Schools.”

Under the Healthy Schools umbrella, the CDSBEO actively participates in initiatives which promotes both physical and mental health. Participation in the Defeat Depression campaign, which encourages student and staff in schools to participate in a physical activity to raise funds for local mental health agencies is one such initiative. In addition, schools host Special Olympics, Jump Rope for Heart, Relay for Life, and poverty walks.

“Physical activity is a powerful means of promoting positive mental health,” noted Mrs. Neville.

Under the Positive Mental Health area, CDSBEO has created the Sources of Strength program that seeks out leaders and influential students from across schools and trains them to spread hope, strength and help-seeking to their peers. Sources of Strength teams are helping to make great strides for positive mental health in schools.

Equity and Inclusive Education thrives in CDSBEO schools through many initiatives including The Not Myself Today, Defeat Depression and Elephant in the Room campaigns. All three support anti-stigma in schools, and thus, foster equity and inclusivity. Additional initiatives include: Harmony Movement, Social Justice Activities, Aboriginal Education Day, and the Just-Us Youth Day, all of which promote faith, equity and inclusion in schools.

“A safe environment is necessary to ensure well-being,” added Mrs. Neville. “CDSBEO has various initiatives that support a safe learning environment. One of these initiatives is training as many people as possible throughout the Board in safeTALK suicide prevention training. This training has been offered to parents, community coaches, staff, bus drivers and senior students.”

“The Ministry of Education’s working definition for well-being takes into account four developmental areas: cognitive, social, emotional and physical,” noted Rick Soudant, Data Analysis Coordinator. “The Board has taken each question from the Child and Youth Well-Being and Resiliency Survey and coded them to the appropriate domain. Sorting these responses has helped the Board to identify how our students feel about their mental health, about inclusion, and about healthy and safe schools.”

“The work we’re doing around student well-being coincides with three of our overall Board Mental Health Action Plan goals which include: guiding staff in supporting students through the Resiliency and Mental Health Frameworks, implementing the Action Plan through school mental health teams, and supporting the student Well-Being Strategy with the Safe School Bully Prevention and Intervention Continuum and Resiliency and Mental Health frameworks,” concluded Mrs. Neville.

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