Mental Health and Well-Being for Students

“Good mental health is something we all want for ourselves, our friends, our family and others in our community. Just like we care for our physical health, there are things we need to do to stay mentally healthy.” (SMHO, 2021)

We believe that supporting mental health and well-being is essential for development and learning for all students as this is an enabler for academic success.

“You have the power to make a difference in school mental health. You can start by taking care of your mental health and supporting your friends. But you can also get involved with activities at your school, school board, or with us to help more students.” (SMHO, 2021)

Mental Health and Mental Illness

Mental health and mental illness are separate, yet interrelated concepts that vary on a continuum, and can be experienced simultaneously to varying degrees. Mental health is a “state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being - not just the absence of illness” (World Health Organization, 2018). Mental illnesses are “emotional, behavioural and brain-related difficulties that interfere with development, relationships, attendance, and achievement” (School Mental Health Ontario, 2021).

The connection between these two concepts is explored below:

  • Supportive relationships with family members and/or friends, proper sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are all beneficial to achieving optimal mental health;
  • Mental illnesses affect how we function in life;
  • One in five Canadians in any given year will experience a mental illness or addiction;
  • It is possible to experience poor mental health with no mental illness. (i.e., an individual might be lacking supportive relationships, have a poor diet, and feel lethargic while not having a mental illness); and
  • It is also possible to experience optimal mental health while having serious mental illness. (i.e., an individual with a diagnosed mental illness might be responding well to medical and therapeutic intervention, have a healthy diet, exercise regularly and be coping well with everyday life stresses).

When mental health and mental illness are placed together they create a “dual continuum”, as illustrated in image below.

A chart illustrating the continuum of mental health and mental illness.

For more information about the relationship between mental health and mental illness, watch the Promoting Mental Health: Finding a Shared Language video from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH, 2015).

Self-Care 101 (Reaching Out) SMHO

Self-care is an important part of wellness. It is about nurturing yourself so that when difficult situations happen, you will have the energy and strategies to help you get through them! Take time to discover what helps you feel good and recharge by exploring the resource, SMHO Self-Care 101.

Supporting Resources for Reaching Out

We all have mental health and talking about things is one of the ways we can take care of it! Asking for help can be awkward but you’ll probably feel relieved after you do. The first step is to start the conversation. Please reach out and talk to an adult at your school about the TVDSB counsellors available to support you during the school year.

To support these important conversations, check out the resource Reaching Out from School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO, 2021).

Community Resources for Reaching Out

**If there is a mental health emergency, please visit your local Hospital Emergency Department or call 911.**

Kids Help Phone
-Provides 24-Hour Crisis Support
Website: https://kidshelpphone.ca/
Text: 686868 (youth) or 741741 (adults)
Call: 1-800-668-6868
Message using Facebook Messenger: Facebook.com/CrisisTextLinepoweredbyKidsHelpPhone
**Indigenous people can connect with an Indigenous crisis responder when available by messaging FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, or METIS over text or messenger.**

Reach Out 24/7
Call or Text: (519) 433-2023
Toll-Free: 1-866-933-2023
Web Chat: https://reachout247.ca/

Know Someone who might be struggling with their mental health, learn to be there for them. Be There is a game-changing mental health resource that teaches anyone how to support people when they're struggling with their mental health. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours, get started at BeThere.org. (https://bethere.org/Home)

Check out the following video, Jessie & Manvir - Say What You See | BeThere.org

Thames Valley District School Board Resources

The following resources have been created by the Thames Valley District School Board to promote and support everyday student mental health and well-being.

Together in the Valley Newsletter

The ‘Together In the Valley’ Infographics are intended to share some kind words, promote mental health & well-being and provide key mental health resources for students and families.  These infographics are distributed from home schools to students and families simultaneously through virtual and/or in-person delivery.

Together in the Valley - August 2021 (PDF)

Click here for accessible/translatable version.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health and wellbeing is inspired through “a balance of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional” (SMHO). Mental health is the ability to feel, think, and act in ways that help us:

  • get through challenges and stressful situations
  • enjoy life
  • have hope and purpose
  • feel connected to others
  • have a sense of belonging

Caring for your mental health and well-being during the school year

  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay physically active
  • Stay connected to caring adults, friends
  • Replace negative thinking with helpful thinking
  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions you may be feeling - without judgement
  • List 6 healthy activities you can do when stressed and needing a distraction
  • Name 2 caring adults you will to talk to when feeling overwhelmed

Asking for help can be awkward. The first step is to start the conversation. Please talk to an adult at your school about the TVDSB counsellors available to support you during the school year.

Ready, Set, Return to Learn

Tips for preparing for the first day of school

  • Stay physically active: walk, bike, yoga, swim, dance
  • Talk to a parent/guardian about any worries

  • Start using your alarm clock. Roll the clock back by 15-30 min daily or set/follow a sleep, rise routine.

  • Create a mood boosting playlist

  • Make a plan to connect with positive, supportive friends/peers

  • Colour to calm nerves
  • Set up a space for online learning, and/or doing homework. Consider: a space outside of your bedroom, what supplies do you need? Create a schedule: homework, social/family time, chores, quiet time, bed time.

  • Choose what you want to wear on the first few days.

  • Night before: Have school supplies ready Prepare snacks/lunch Set your alarm Go to bed early

adapted from https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/coping-with-back-to-school-anxiety/.

Together in the Valley - June 2021 (PDF)

Click here for accessible/translatable version.

Have a Safe Summer

It has been a school year like no other and we are PROUD of your hard work! As we near summer break it's o.k. to feel different things like happiness, excitement, sadness or fear. If you want someone to talk to during the summer, reach out to a friend, a trusted adult, and/or call/text/message a support line. Talking to someone might be all you need to feel a bit better!

Starting July 2, our TVDSB Cares Team of School Mental Health Professionals are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm (weekends and holidays excluded) to support students and families. Reach us by phone at 548-486-5188 or email at tvdsbcares@tvdsb.ca

Today I am grateful for...

Together in the Valley is spotlighting GRATITUDE. Expressing gratitude can help us feel healthier, happier, and hopeful, even when facing a challenge (www.smho-smso.ca).

We are Grateful for YOU!

Thank-you for your:

  • Daily efforts - big & small
  • Patience
  • Cooperation
  • Kindness
  • Commitment
  • Support of friends
  • Help in keeping each other safe

Reaching Out

Asking for help can be hard. The first step is to start the conversation.

https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Reaching-Out.pdf

Mental Health Resources

www.TVDSB.ca

www.mindyourmind.ca

www.jack.org

School Mental Health Ontario

Summer Break Bingo

Your physical and mental health is important! Please take care of yourself and each other! Try these suggested ideas:

  • Celebrate your wins – big or small!
  • Grow a little garden
  • Ask for help
  • Compile a mood-boosting playlist
  • Think about what makes you happy
  • Focus on helpful, positive thoughts
  • Unplug from technology
  • Stay hydrated all day
  • Go on a nature walk: I smell, I see, I feel, I hear
  • Breathe: inhale-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4
  • Star gaze
  • Eat your favourite snack
  • Dance
  • Declutter your room
  • List what you love about yourself
  • Vent to a trusted adult or friend
  • Laugh
  • Mail a letter to someone you care about
  • Draw, paint, colour, or doodle
  • Make a tent or fort – inside or outside
  • Connect with loved ones via text or phone
  • Journal: feelings, thoughts, dreams, affirmations
  • Learn a new skill
  • Do something nice for someone
  • Make a list of people and things you are grateful for

Together in the Valley - April 2021 (PDF)

 Click here for accessible/translatable version.

Arts Festival and Mental Health Week – May 3rd – 7th, 2021: Celebrating how the Arts supports mental health and well-being 

It's been a school year that looks and feels different. We are proud of your efforts and accomplishments! Taking care of your mental health continues to be important. On those challenging days please reach out to a trusted adult. Together in the Valley is spotlighting how the arts promote good mental health. Arts activities can lower stress and anxiety while boosting confidence, self-esteem, calmness, and positive feelings. How might you add the arts to yourself-care routine?

The heART of Mental Health graphic includes:

Dance, Digital, Drama, Music, and Visual Arts

Arts activities to do at home:

  • Bake
  • Cook
  • Garden
  • Colour
  • Knit
  • Sew
  • Dance
  • Sing
  • Paint a rock
  • Draw your mood
  • Write music, poetry, a story
  • Create your own coat of arms

We would love to see how you are using the Arts to support your mental health?  Share your art using any of the following options.

Submit Artwork through:

For more info visit: http://bit.ly/tvinnovates

All submissions will be shared in our virtual @TVinnovatesgallery

“There are no rules to creativity” ~ Laura Jaworsky

Reaching Out

Asking for help can be awkward. The first step is to start the conversation. Please talk to an adult at your school about the TVDSB counsellors available to support you.

https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Reaching-Out.pdf

Mental Health Resources

www.TVDSB.ca

www.mindyourmind.ca

www.jack.org

School Mental Health Ontario

Together in the Valley - February 2021 (PDF)

Click here for accessible/translatable version.

What We Heard

It's been a school year that looks and feels different. You are doing a great job and we are proud of you! Remember, on those days that are not so easy, sometimes all it takes to feel better is to chat for a little bit. There is always somebody there for you. It's a sign of strength to reach out if you are needing help.

@TVDSBcares

TVDSB has counsellors available to support you. Please talk to an adult at your school about the help that is available.

CALM with COLOUR

Colouring helps you feel: more calm, more focused, less stressed, more in control of your body, and distracts from unpleasant thoughts.

Mental Health Resources

www.TVDSB.ca

www.mindyourmind.ca

www.jack.org

School Mental Health Ontario

Personal Gratitude Chart (complete this personal gratitude chart created by SMHO)

  • One of my strengths that I am grateful is:
  • One thing I can do to express gratitude is:
  • One person I am grateful for is:
  • One memory I am grateful for is:
  • One challenge I am grateful for is:
  • One beautiful thing in my life I am grateful for is:

Reaching Out

Asking for help can be awkward.  The first step is to start the conversation.

https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Reaching-Out.pdf

What is Mental Health?

Mental health and wellbeing is inspired through “a balance of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional” (SMHO). Mental health is the ability to feel, think, and act in ways that help us:

  • get through challenges and stressful situations
  • enjoy life
  • have hope and purpose
  • feel connected to others
  • have a sense of belonging

Caring for your mental health and well-being during the school year

  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay physically active
  • Stay connected to caring adults, friends
  • Replace negative thinking with helpful thinking
  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions you may be feeling - without judgement
  • List 6 healthy activities you can do when stressed and needing a distraction
  • Name 2 caring adults you will to talk to when feeling overwhelmed

Asking for help can be awkward. The first step is to start the conversation. Please talk to an adult at your school about the TVDSB counsellors available to support you during the school year.

Ready, Set, Return to Learn

Tips for preparing for the first day of school

  • Stay physically active: walk, bike, yoga, swim, dance
  • Talk to a parent/guardian about any worries

  • Start using your alarm clock. Roll the clock back by 15-30 min daily or set/follow a sleep, rise routine.

  • Create a mood boosting playlist

  • Make a plan to connect with positive, supportive friends/peers

  • Colour to calm nerves
  • Set up a space for online learning, and/or doing homework. Consider: a space outside of your bedroom, what supplies do you need? Create a schedule: homework, social/family time, chores, quiet time, bed time.

  • Choose what you want to wear on the first few days.

  • Night before: Have school supplies ready Prepare snacks/lunch Set your alarm Go to bed early

adapted from https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/coping-with-back-to-school-anxiety/.

My Everyday Practices: Student Guide

Students' express emotion in a variety of ways based on their personal, social, and cultural lived experiences.  It is important to understand how thoughts, emotions, and actions are related. Check out ‘My Everyday Practices’ resource to help identify and manage your emotions. 

My Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being is a guide designed to help you use well-being strategies in your everyday life. These activities are designed to promote calm. Regular practice builds resilience and promotes well-being.

My Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being: Student Guide (PDF)

Just Breathe

Focus on your belly, maybe put your hand there. As you breathe in deeply through your nose, send this breath all the way down to your stomach. Feel as your stomach expands and your hand moves out. Breathe out… feel your stomach contract and your hand move in.

Keep in Mind

  • The activity can be helpful before a test or any stressful situation.
  • The more you practice, the more natural thiswill feel!
  • Before sleep is a great time to practice.
 
Just Listen

Start with a deep breath. If you feel safe, close your eyes.
Open your ears to sounds far away from you.
Listen for a minute. What do you hear?
Next focus on sounds close to you.
Listen for a minute. What do you hear?
Now focus on sounds inside your body.
Listen for a minute. What do you hear?

Just Notice

Notice 5 things you can see.
Notice 4 things you can hear.
Notice 3 things you can feel/touch.
Notice 2 things you can smell.
Notice 1 thing you can taste.

Keep in Mind

  • Just Notice is an example of a grounding practice. Grounding is a way to focus your attention to the sensations you are experiencing in this moment.
  • Grounding is good to practice at any time but especially helpful when your emotions or thoughts are stressing you out.
Calm Place

Where do you feel the most relaxed?
Imagine you are there.
What do you see?
What do you hear?
Are there any smells, tastes, or textures?

Keep in Mind

  • You can use your Calm Place to feel more at peace during stressful moments.
  • Spend time developing details of your Calm Place to make it feel more realistic.
  • Use your imagination and walk around your calm place – notice every detail.
Let it Go

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath. Use your fingers to gently massage the top of your head.

Still in massaging motion bring your fingers to your forehead, eyebrows, temples, around your eyes, cheeks, and jaw.

If you notice tension anywhere – let it go. Finally massage each of your ears and end by gently pulling your earlobes.

Keep in Mind

  • Take your time with each area especially where you hold the most tension.
  • You may try this technique on your hands using a massaging motion to focus on each finger, thumb, and palm.
Tense and Relax

Squeeze your hands into fists as tight as you can and hold for a few seconds then relax your hands.

Push your shoulders up to your ears and hold for a few seconds then relax your shoulders.

Push your heels down into the floor, squeeze your toes and hold for a few seconds then relax your feet.

Tense your stomach muscles as tight as you can and hold for a few seconds then relax your stomach.

Mindful Walking

Find a space where you can walk safely for a few minutes. You might set a timer. Put one foot forward and notice how it feels as your foot meets the ground.

Continue walking and pay attention to your feet, legs, hips, and the rest of your body. Notice the movement of your body as you take each step.

As you walk, pay attention to; the foot that is off the ground, how your hands/arms move (or don’t), how you are breathing.

Keep in Mind

  • You may notice distractions like people or phones but stay focused until you have completed your walk.
Four Finger Affirmations

Select four words that make you feel calm and confident.

It might be a sentence or just four words. Examples: “I am loved today”, “I believe in me”, “Breathe Listen Smile Love”, “I can handle this.”

Each word you have chosen will match a finger on your hand.

As you say your affirmation in your head, connect each finger with your thumb.

Keep in Mind

  • The more you say this to yourself the more you will feel that what you say is true.
Gratitude Moment

Being grateful makes you more patient when life is difficult.

Think of something that you are grateful for.

Hold this in your mind for a moment.

You may choose to write the details of your gratitude moment in a journal or share with someone.

Keep in Mind

  • This is a great way to end the day.
  • Try to practice this regularly.
  • Be grateful for small things (flowers, smiles, chocolate) and grand things (friends, clean water, music)
Mindful Messaging

Before you text, tweet, send, or post, take a moment to:
Take a deep breath.
Notice how you are feeling.
Re-read your message.
Ask yourself “is the message true?”
Think about how the message will be received.
Think about what will happen next.
Change the message if needed.

Keep in Mind

  • If you are hurt, angry, or confused it is wise to wait before hitting send.
  • Don’t send messages that you would not say to the person’s face.
Everyday Practices for Everyday Learning

Everyday Practices for Everyday Learning is a resource developed by the Thames Valley District School to assist you in ways that you can embed well-being strategies into your everyday life. Regular practice of these activities is designed to promote calm and well-being, while building engagement. Each activity provides an outline, links to learning skills, and includes explicit instructions.

Now We're Cooking

Unlock your family’s cooking potential. Whether you have toddlers or teens, your kids will love getting creative in the kitchen.

Learning Together in the Kitchen

Health: What makes a balanced meal or snack?

Language: How do you read a recipe or write a grocery list?

Math: How do you measure ingredients and work with fractions?

Science: What will happen when you boil veggies or make bread?

Social studies: What food is grown in Canada and around the world?

Food skills: How do you stir, chop, knead, pour and scoop?

Social skills: How can we work together, take turns and share utensils?

Source: UnlockFood.ca

Resources
Growing Chefs, UnlockFood.ca, Canada's Food Guide

Mixing Fun with Words

Word puzzles can be in any language and cover any topic. They can enhance your child's creative and critical thinking skills while being engaging and fun.

Word Games and Code Breaking

Language: Which words do I know? Can I build on my vocabulary?

Problem solving: Can I find patterns or shapes in the code?

Social skills: When I get frustrated trying to figure it out, what can I do to stay calm and focused?

Critical thinking: Have I thought about this word puzzle from a different angle? Can I flip it upside-down to see something new?

Second language: If I don't recognize a word, is there a similar word that I do know in English? Where do I see root words?

Social studies: When and where throughout history has code been used?
What was its purpose?

Source: Dana Foundation of Neuroscience

Resources
Dana Foundation of Neuroscience, Flintobox.com

Play and Have Fun

Boardgames are a great way to boost your brainpower and improve executive functioning skills.

Benefits of Boardgames

Language: What new words or terms do we need to learn for this game?

Math: What is money sense and who’s the banker?

Business: What resources do I have and how should I use them?

Social skills: How can we win and lose gracefully?

Communication: Am I focused on the game and carefully listening to all players?

Source: Scholastic

Resources
Scholastic, cbc.ca/parents, education.com/worksheets

Take a Deep Breath

Deep, slow breathing sends calming signals to the brain. Practice often to make this technique work better for you when feelings of frustration, anxiety or sadness bubble up.

Deep Breathing – Calming Technique

Drama: Imagine you have a hot chocolate. Breathe in through your nose, imagine the delicious smell. Breathe out through your mouth to cool it down. Or, breathe in and imagine the smell of a flower, then breathe out and imagine you are slowly blowing out a candle.

Math: Breathe while tracing shapes with your finger.
Triangle – breathe in, hold breath, breathe out.. Count with the breath – in for 5, hold for 3, out for 7. For calming, breathe out for as long as possible.

Science: What is the Fight – Flight - Freeze response? How does my body and mind react? How can I modify my response?

Social skills: With a partner, sit back to back and feel each other's breathing. Can you match the rhythm?

Resources
YouTube: "Just Breathe" by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman, TVDSB "A Teachers Guide: Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Classroom"

Take a Deep Breath, I Can Do This! This Too Shall Pass, I Believe in Me

Be your own cheerleader! Notice your helpful qualities and habits, say encouraging words to help counter negative thoughts that have you feeling powerless and 'stuck'.

Positive Self-Talk

Health: What situations cause me to feel doubt and stress?
What message will help me to persevere during this struggle?

Language: Select four words that make you feel calm and confident. Each word you have chosen will match one finger on your hand. As you say your affirmation press your thumb to each finger; one finger per word.

Science: Why is my brain better at noticing problems than noticing positive things? How does noticing problems help with survival?

Social studies: Motivational quotes and proverbs exist in all languages and cultures. Explore!

Resources
TVDSB "A Teachers Guide: Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Classroom"

Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Memory - What's Your Favourite?

Playing cards is sometimes seen as just a pastime, however there are plenty of hidden benefits from engaging in this activity.

Playing Cards

Language & Math: Literacy and numeracy skills typically go hand in hand. Completing a game might include gathering and analyzing information, using a mathematical skill and reporting that information in written and/or verbal form.

Business: Employability skills for getting and keeping a job; working a cash register and counting items in an order.

Social Skills: Improve your patience and concentration.
Can I predict emotions that my opponent or partner has throughout the game? What about facial expressions?

Cognitive Skills: Boost your memory without even realizing it.

Resources
Playingcarddecks.com, TVDSB - Mathematics

Tense & Relax

When you find it difficult to let go of angry or anxious feelings, this technique may be helpful.

Technique:

Squeeze your hands into fists as tight as you can and hold for a few seconds then relax your hands and feel your muscles loosen.
Push your heels down into the floor, squeeze your toes and hold for a few seconds then relax your feet and feel your muscles loosen.
Let Go of Stress

Science: How many muscles do you have? Can you tense and relax them one at a time?

Drama: Use your imagination! When tensing up, pretend you are the Hulk or an uncooked noodle. When relaxing, pretend you are a jellyfish or a cooked noodle.

Social Skills: It is important to develop your ability to notice and manage big emotions so that you don't miss out on the fun or give up on a difficult task when you are frustrated, embarrassed
or disappointed.

Resources
TVDSB "A Teachers Guide: Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Classroom"

Free Your Imagination

LEGO and other building sets are an ideal way to tap into STEM learning. Challenge your whole family to build from a set or use your imaginations to create something unique!

BUILDING: LEGO, K'NEX, MEGA BLOKS, MODELS

Math: What geometric shapes and angles fit best together?

Problem-Solving: How can the shapes help me build what I want to build? Can I estimate how many I might need?

Spatial Competencies: How can I recreate an object to scale? Is it possible to use a grid?

Literacy: If I struggle to understand the directions for building, what strategies can I use to figure it out?

Source: BrightHorizons.com

Resources
Dana Foundation of Neuroscience, Mamainthenow.com, Brighthorizons.com

Crafting for Health

Research shows that regularly engaging in crafts may have tangible health benefits. Here's what getting crafty might do for you.

THE UNEXPECTED BENEFITS of CRAFTING

Social Justice: How do crafts connect to politics and turn objects from everyday lift into agents for social change?

Mental Health: Projects help build self-esteem. Simply visualizing, working on and then creating a product can make you feel better about yourself.

Developmental Education: When we perform manual work, we force our brain to coordinate thinking with our hands; training fine motor skills.

Physical Education: Repetitive motions can help calm down the body and the brain.

Resources
BerkleyWellness.com, Search: Crafting for Health

Grounding Exercises

Focus your attention on the sensations you are experiencing in the moment (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste).

Calm Your Mind

Horticulture: When working with plants, take a moment to notice what you see and smell. Feel the soil, plants, water.

Music: Play your favourite piece of music and listen very carefully to the variety of instruments, including vocals. Is it easier for you to listen with your eyes open or closed?

History: When did Jon Kabat-Zinn start researching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)? What did the research show?

Technology: Search 'grounding exercise' online to find the best techniques for you. Bookmark your favourites.

Resources
My Everyday Practices - Mental Health and Well-Being Activities

WARNING: Things might get messy!

MAKE YOUR OWN slime and playdough – just a few essential household ingredients and you’re on your way to hours of family fun.

SLIME IS CHEMISTRY! SLIME IS FUN!

Science: Which ingredients do I need to make slime or playdough? What chemical reactions are involved?

Literacy: What is an activator? How can I find out?

Art: What items can I use to create the textures for cloud or galaxy slime? What colours do I mix to make pink, purple, turquoise or sparkly playdough?

Mental Health & Well-Being: Kneading, mixing and squishing with our hands helps us to feel centered and calm. Read about ASMR and slime videos at self.com.

Source: Little Bins for Little Hands

Resources
Littlebinsforlittlehands.com, self.com

Be Grateful for the Little Things

Create a habit of noticing big and little things you are grateful for. Being grateful can make you more patient when life is difficult.

GRATITUDE is the BEST ATTITUDE

History: What inventions have made your daily life easier? Think cooking, cleaning, communication and transportation.

Social Skills: Regularly tell others that you are grateful to have them in your life and why.

Art: Using any medium, create an art piece that expresses your gratitude.

Resources
TVDSB "A Teachers Guide: Everyday Practices for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Classroom"

I Spy With My Little Eye

TVDSB is collecting system wide BIRD Watching data for three days, May 13-15.
Get outside and participate for 15 min. Share your data at www.tvdsb.ca/environment

SPRING NEIGHBOURHOOD BIRD COUNT

Math: Using the data collected, how can you answer your questions, and what conclusions can you draw?
What can you KNOW from the data, and what do you now WONDER?

Science: Use this opportunity to hypothesize, investigate and understand the interactions in your own local environment.

Health: This is a life-long outdoor activity that can be done anywhere, any time of year.

Mental Health & Well-Being: Watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature.

Resources
Ontario Field Ornithologists, NatureCanada.ca, TVDSB Environmental Ed.

Smiling is Contagious Too

Outdoor chalk art is an opportunity to express yourself and inspire others. Think of ways to make it interactive - games like hopscotch, asking questions, riddles or even jokes!

PLAYING with POSITIVITY

Art: Draw images, write quotes and words to inspire optimism and creativity.

Social Skills: How might someone else feel by reading/seeing what you've created?

Language: What are some new words that you can find and learn to spell?

Science: How is chalk made? Can you make some at home?

Question: What is so fragile that saying its name breaks it?

Answer: Silence

My Feel-Good Playlist

Music has the power to make us feel many different emotions. What style of music is your 'go-to' for feeling happy?

MUSIC at HOME #TVDSBarts

Music: The elements of music are what changes the emotion of a song. What are the elements of music that you prefer when creating a playlist?

What music makes you feel happy or calm?
What kind of music would you listen to if you want to feel energized or relaxed?
What music makes you want to get up and dance?
Resources
#TVDSBarts, The Arts Curriculum (2009), TVDSB Arts

Notice Every Sensation

Walking – with or without a destination – is an opportunity to quiet your mind.
Focus your attention on only what you feel, hear, smell and see in this moment.

WALK this WAY

Biology: How does walking strengthen your bones?

Math: How long is your stride (one step)? How many steps would it take you to walk one meter? One kilometer?

Social Skills: What does it feel like to walk with someone and not speak? When you complete the walk, share what you observed with your senses as well as the thoughts and feelings you noticed while not speaking.

Health & Physical Education: Walking is a simple way to achieve daily exercise goals.

Resources
Healthy Schools: DPA, ParticipACTION, Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines

What Does the Evening Sound Like?

As evening sets in, a whole new world comes alive. What sounds do you hear, how do they make you feel, what do you wonder?

EVENING SOUNDS

Music: Can you replicate the sounds and rhythms you hear with objects from around your home?

Language: Write a poem about all the wonderous or spooky sounds you hear.

Science: Why do we hear so many different sounds at night? What does it mean to be nocturnal? Can you name 5 different nocturnal animals and their habitat?

Social studies: While most of our community sleeps, many are busy at work. What professions work in the evening and through the night? Why do you think so?

Resources
NationalGeographic.com, Book: Night Animals by Gianna Marino

Calming Moments

Bring to mind a place where you feel calm. Imagine you are there. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Include textures, temperature, emotions. Are there any smells or tastes?

WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST CALM?

Arts: How might you represent your calm place through various mediums? Try drawing, creating music or poetry.

Biology: What is happening in your body when you imagine this place? How does your breathing and brain chemistry change? When stressed, pause to take a slow breath and imagine your calm place in as much detail as possible.

Horticulture: Can you create a calm place using plants?

Science: Research shows that this practice works best when the calm place in your mind is a real place where you have spent time.

Resources
My Everyday Practices - Mental Health and Well-Being Activities TVDSB

Literacy

"Literacy is about more than reading and writing – it's about how we communicate in society. It is about social practices and relationships, about knowledge, language and culture." UNESCO, Statement for United Nations Literacy Decade, 2003-2012

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS

Social Media: Communicating through social media uses many short forms (LOL), tags (@), and hashtags (#). With members of your household, write a list of 10 hashtags you would share during this time at home.

Instagram Post: Label the parts of the message (greeting, tags, sharing ideas, asking questions, closing, hashtags). Write a list of 8 things you have been doing, including some details (Who? Where? When? Why?).
Record 5 questions you might ask.

Resources
TVDSB, Continuity of Learning, Literacy

Gardening

“A garden is a friend you can visit any time.” Okakura Kakuzo

Gardening adds beauty, oxygen and diverse ecosystems to your living space. Research shows that tending to plants can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Learning in the Garden

Geography: We live in the Carolinian Ecosystem Zone. What flowering plants can you grow to help our natural pollinators?

Math: When growing plants from seed, use a ruler to measure depth and spacing as listed on the seed package. Measure and chart the growth of various plants over time.

Horticulture: Which bugs and insects are beneficial to the plants you are growing? If you don't have space for a garden, research container gardening or municipal community garden plots.

Art: Draw, paint, or photograph to document your garden's growth over time.

Resources
CarolinianCanada.ca, Municipal websites

Clean Up, Clean Up

Let's make it a game. Turning routine chores into a fun family challenge can improve communication and team building skills. Tidying can be fun!

Many hands make light work

Teamwork: If you work together, how many things can you pick up in 1 minute? Can you beat that number?

Music: Choose upbeat songs (125-140 BPM) to make cleaning up fun! What are some of your favourites?

Mental Health & Well-Being: A tidy space has been proven to reduce distractions and anxiety (CAMH).

Social Studies: Use the Internet to research places where you can donate unwanted toys/books locally.

Resources

Center4research.org, camh.ca

A Deeper Dive into Mindfulness

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally." - Jon Kabat Zinn
History: When and where did Jon Kabat Zinn begin researching the effects of mindfulness practice? What were the results?

Social Studies: There are many cultural and religious practices that share attributes of mindfulness practice. Ask your family, friends and online community what practices they find helpful to restore calm and perspective when life is difficult.

Health and P.E.: Research and try movement-based mindful practices. What are the many benefits associated with practicing mindfulness regularly?

Resources:
CAMH.ca, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), MBSR-Teen

Making a Super Cool Fort at Home

What every day, household items make the best forts? Try pillows, fitted and flat sheets, clothes pins and clips and build a masterpiece where the whole family can play and expand their imaginations together!

Science/physics: How much weight is needed to hold up a sheet, but not collapse the ceiling? How much space is required for you to fit in your fort (sitting, standing)?

Imaginative play: Is the couch part of a spaceship? The bunkbed a castle tower? Is your fort a restaurant, a corner store, a classroom or even a jungle hideout?

History: Did you know that the oldest walled city is Uruk in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia)? What can you learn about the history of fortification around the world?

Resources: Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center

Coffee with Kelly - Mental Health Conversations

The following videos are conversations that were recorded during Mental Health Week in the spring of 2020 between the Mental Health Lead, Kelly Appleby and a variety of people connected to the TVDSB. 

Student Trustees 2020-2021 – Student Perspective on the Pandemic & Re-entry to Schools

TVDSB Student Trustees for the 2020/2021 school year, Mahek, Tasnia, and Nicholas bring the student perspective on school closures, what will be important to students for school re-entry, and the value of student voice.

Coffee with Kelly featuring Student Trustees 2020-2021 (Introduction)

Coffee with Kelly featuring Student Trustees 2020-2021 (Extended)

 

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

Two TVDSB students and an educator sat down to chat about the importance of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and the vital role schools can play in supporting 2SLGBTQ+ students.

Coffee with Kelly - International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (Introduction)

Coffee with Kelly - International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (Extended)

 

Check out the the Coffee with Kelly playlist on Youtube.

School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) Resources

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) 
Social-emotional learning (SEL) describes the process of developing and practicing skills that help us to thrive throughout life.  SEL targets six domains where knowledge and skills can be developed.  Explicit, whole-classroom/school efforts to teach social-emotional learning have a positive impact on students’ social, behavioural, and emotional well-being.  This can have a positive impact on academic achievement for students.  

School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) has created a series of videos with students, for students to help them understand SEL and discover how they can enhance skill development in this area.  Check out these Social-Emotional Learning resources to learn more. 

Video #1: Skills for students: What is Social-Emotional learning?
An introduction to social-emotional learning: Social-emotional learning (SEL) describes the process of developing and expanding certain skills that help us to thrive. The focus is to develop skills for recognizing and managing thoughts and emotions, getting along with others, and approaching challenges in an organized and optimistic manner. SEL is associated with gains in both academic performance and well-being. 

Video #2: Skills for students: How your thoughts, emotions and behaviours work together
Identification and management of emotions: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on the connection between emotions, thoughts, and behaviours and the skills required to notice these feelings and react appropriately in situations.

Video #3: Skills for students: Managing the stress you feel
Stress management and coping: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on strategies to cope with controllable and uncontrollable stress to help prepare for future challenges.

Video #4: Skills for students: Persevering even when things are hard
Positive motivation and perseverance: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on the importance of learning skills for adapting to changes, persevering in the face of adversity, learning from mistakes, and thinking positively about setbacks.

Video #5: Skills for students: Having healthy relationships with others
Healthy Relationships: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on learning effective communication and conflict resolution skills that result in more positive interactions with others.

Video #6: Skills for students: Discovering what makes you YOU!
Self-awareness and sense of identity: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on the importance of identity, mattering and belonging to overall well-being, and how knowing personal strengths and potential can contribute to a sense of identity and belonging.

Video #7: Skills for students: Organizing your thoughts to help you focus
Critical and creative thinking: A domain of social-emotional learning focused on managing thoughts and emotions in order to concentrate on items of importance, achieve goals, and make better decisions.

Video #8: Skills for students: Social-emotional learning skills for life
Closing statements about social-emotional learning (SEL): SEL skills are important for future resilience. Beyond academics, SEL skills are also helpful tools through life. 

Additional Resources
Websites

School Mental Health Ontario (Student)  

School Mental Health Ontario provides students with consistent access to high-quality, evidence-based mental health information, supports and services. There mission is for Ontario students know how to care for their own mental health, seek help when problems arise, and maintain a strong sense of identity, belonging, confidence and hope even in challenging circumstances. 
Linkhttps://smho-smso.ca/

Jack.org is Canada's only charity training and empowering young leaders to revolutionize mental health in every province and territory. Through a variety of initiatives, such as Jack Talks and Jack Summits, young leaders identify and dismantle barriers to positive mental health in their communities. Through ambitious innovations in youth mental health like Be There, they give students the mental health resources they need to educate themselves.
Linkhttps://jack.org/Home

Mind your Mind exists in the space where mental health, wellness, engagement and technology meet. They work with community partners and young people aged 14 to 29 to co-create interactive tools and innovative resources to build capacity and resilience.
Linkhttps://mindyourmind.ca/

Apps

Heads Space includes guided meditations, animations, articles, and videos, that can be used anytime, anywhere, and by anyone, who wants to experience the health and happiness benefits of meditation.
Linkhttps://www.headspace.com/

MindShift CBT uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety. It includes tools to tackle worry, panic, perfectionism, social anxiety, and phobias.
Linkhttps://www.anxietycanada.com/resources/mindshift-cbt/

My Life: Stop, Think, and Breathe offers a personalized mindfulness solution tailored to how you’re feeling right now. This app invites you to fit mindfulness into your daily life with meditation, breathing, yoga, guided journaling, and more. 
Linkhttps://www.stopbreathethink.com/learn/

Insight Timer addresses sleep, anxiety, and stress with more than 100,000 guided meditations led by the best teachers from Canada and the world. 
Linkhttps://insighttimer.com/en-ca

 In the Now!
To celebrate Mental Health Week and the TVDSB annual Arts Festival, the Mental Health and Arts portfolio have partnered and created a collaborative initiative to highlight how the Arts promote positive mental health and well-being. We are excited to share this year’s #theARTofMentalHealth event; this initiative is designed to engage the entire TVDSB community in person and/or virtually. Check out TVDSB submissions by searching the #TheARTofMentalHealth on Twitter.  

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