This week is National Access Awareness Week.
When you think about accessibility, mental health might not immediately come to mind. However, we know that mental illness can be as debilitating as a physical illness. As many as one in five students struggle with a mental health concern at some point in their lives and more than half of those students also struggle with learning disabilities or other difficulties.
Because mental health concerns are not always visible, people often struggle to cope silently, which can be extremely isolating. There are multiple barriers to students accessing mental health supports, including a lack of awareness of available support, limited community resources and stigma, for example.
The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) is committed to enhancing mental health and well-being for all students. We are focused on fostering safe, caring schools where students feel valued and have a sense of belonging.
As part of our Tier One (Universal) strategies, many schools have implemented the MindUP program, which engages our students in developing skills to calm their minds and bodies, enhance their self-esteem and empathy and to place value on their role in the community.
The SCDSB is also working to create safer school communities through suicide prevention and intervention programs, like Safe TALK or ASIST. In these programs staff and students learn skills to recognize when someone is struggling with mental health concerns and help to connect them with life-saving supports.
Mental health matters. We all have a role to play in supporting each other. Together we can make a difference.
~Danielle Mink, Mental Health Lead, SCDSB