CDSBEO Launches Mental Health Champion Initiative in Secondary Schools
On Tuesday, September 26, secondary students gathered at St. Michael Catholic High School for the launch of the new CDSBEO “Mental Health Champion” initiative. Participating students were eager to learn how to bring positive and supportive mental health messaging to their school communities.
Developed by CDSBEO Mental Health Lead Strategist Selina Mackie, the Mental Health Champions program aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental health within secondary schools, reminding the entire school community that support is available for those who are struggling and that they are not alone. A key component to the program is a small team of student volunteer Mental Health Champions who act as ambassadors to bridge the support gap for vulnerable students.
During the orientation sessions our Champions learned the differences between mental health and mental illness, and discussed factors that can impact mental health in themselves and others. They also considered various barriers to seeking help, potential supports in the school and community, and ways they might share messages about mental health strategies with peers, friends, and loved ones.
“Our Champions aren’t there to provide counselling,” noted Mackie. “They are tasked with promoting positive mental health in their schools through announcements, posters, school social media, information tables on important days, and by simply spreading awareness with their distinctive, bright blue “Let’s Talk About It” sweatshirts! Our Champions are there to help provide peers with some direction and connect them to a safe adult when needed.”
“Nurturing” is one of the four tenets of the CDSBEO Strategic Plan which calls on us to build strong relationships and nurture mental health and well-being for all members of the school community. The Board is excited to launch this important new initiative to further support this plan.