Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy

The Mental Health and Well-being Strategy supports HWDSB’s strategic directions – especially Positive Culture and Well-being.

HWDSB fosters a Board-wide culture where respectful, responsive, empathetic and inclusive relationships are recognized as essential for promoting overall mental health and well-being for all our students, staff, parents and caregivers.VideoImage 1

See a great video on developing a shared language around mental health and well-being here.

We will achieve this transformation through our belief that “People Do Well If They Can”. (Ross Greene – “Kids Do Well If They Can”) This will help us understand, accept and build on our unique differences as learners, as educators and as whole people.

Mental Health Strategy

Respectful Working and Learning Environment Using an Equity Lens Creating Safe and Accepting Schools Well-being 'People do well if they can'

Positive mental health and well-being is a priority in HWDSB policies and procedures. Policies, which guide school and Board operations, help everyone understand their rights and responsibilities. Some of the Policies relevant to mental health and well-being include Equity and Inclusive Education, HarassmentRespectful Workplace and Bullying Prevention and Intervention.

Some of the Ways We Support Our Strategy Include:

  • Curriculum Embedded Approaches
  • CPS (Collaborative and Proactive Solutions)
  • School-based Mental Health Leads
  • Strong partnerships with community organizations
  • Evidence Informed Best Practices


HWDSB will be a place in which all students’ and staff’s unique mental health and well-being needs are promoted, enhanced, supported and responded to every day, in every classroom, in every school, in every learning environment


The mental health and well-being needs of all HWDSB students and staff will be supported through the:

  • establishment of respectful and responsive conditions, processes and partnerships
  • committed understanding of equity and inclusion principles and practices
  • acceptance of individual responsibility in creating safe, caring and accepting learning environments 


  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Commitment
  • Responsiveness
  • Inclusion

Identified Priority Student Mental Health and Well-Being Needs

  • Anxiety Management Strategies
  • Peer Relationships
  • Self-regulation / Anger Management Strategies

Identified Priority Staff Mental Health Literacy Needs

  • A shared knowledge and understanding of how to create Core Conditions of Well-Being in every classroom and every school
  • A shared understanding of the mental health and well-being continuum
  • The differences between time limited or situational mental distress versus a mental health and well-being disorder
  • Clarity around the role/responsibility of an Educator vs a Clinician in supporting students with mental health and well-being challenges
  • How to provide appropriate programming for students with acute and chronic mental health and well-being challenges

Implementation of Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion and Prevention Programming

Our focus in 2015 has been on Year 1 of our Collaborative and Proactive Solutions Implementation Plan. This framework and approach is the underpinning of our overall mental health and well-being strategy at all three tiers of need (Core, Supplemental and Intensive) and across all levels of mental health and well-being response (promotion, prevention, intervention and post-vention).

Year 2 will include further targeted and tiered professional development and capacity building as well as the alignment and embedding of CPS principles into all our related documentation i.e. IEP Alternate Program Pages, Behaviour Support Plans, and Safe Intervention Plans.

Year 2 will also bring about further integration of our decision-making processes and pathways to Board and community services that is founded on a shared use of an HWDSB adaption of Dr. Ross Greene’s ALSUP (Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems).

The school year 2015-16 will be year one of a Board-wide Mindfulness Practices implementation. Like our CPS roll out, this initiative will also be guided by an Implementation Science model.

Mental Health and Well-Being Capacity Building

HWDSB is taking a strategic approach in which professional development will be provided under four headings: Compulsory Board Wide (e.g. Suicide Response Protocol); Compulsory School Wide (e.g. Overview of revised HWDSB Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy); School Identified (e.g. Leading Mentally Healthy Classrooms); and Self-Selected (e.g. Supporting Minds module on specific population or mental health and well-being challenge).

A tiered approach (what is needed by all, by some and by few) will be applied whenever we are delivering new information or facilitating PD opportunities for our staff and new Board-wide initiatives will be rolled out using an Implementation Science model.

We have recently established a Leadership & Learning planning framework that will help ensure all our initiatives, activities and processes are aligned, integrated and inclusive of all departments, roles, stakeholders and voices within our system and across our school communities.

A variety of formal and informal feedback opportunities were provided in 2014-15 and will again be part of our strategy over the next three years. Some of these structures have included: Advisory committees, meetings with School Leadership teams, student, staff, parent/caregiver and community focus groups, online surveys and 1:1 conversations.

To support all of the above capacity building initiatives and approaches, each school will be identifying a “Mental Health Lead” for their own building. This person will work closely with their school Administrator and the HWDSB Mental Health and Well-Being Dept staff to:

  • Determine the school’s areas of strengths and needs in relation to HWDSB’s Mental Health and Well Being Strategy Priorities for this academic year
  • Develop an enhanced awareness of internal and community based agencies, services and on-line Mental Health and Well-Being resources
  • Support the work of the Health Action Team and the Teacher Advisor in schools where this service is provided
  • Provide and/or facilitate the provision of, a range of PD opportunities for staff regarding student mental health and well-being

Completed (January to June 2015)

  1. Creation of a Board Level Mental Health and Well-Being Leadership Team
  2. Review and revision of our three-year Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy
  3. Board approval of a revised Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Post-vention protocol, practices and guidelines
  4. Establishment of a Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) Framework and Year 1 initiation of a tiered and targeted implementation process
  5. Update and enhancement of the Board’s Mental Health and Well-Being website resources and information

Where we are going (Sept 2015-June 2018)

  1. Development of planning, communication and implementation structures and frameworks that support a coordinated, integrated and transparent approach to communication and capacity building across departments
  2. Establishment of a strategic process for the delivery of internal Mental Health and Well-Being Capacity Building and PD opportunities (i.e. CPS, Mindfulness, Mental Health resources, ASIST, SafeTALK)
  3. Implementation of a standardized decision making framework for reviewing and communicating to the system, Board approved mental health resources, initiatives, services/presenters and special events
  4. Provision of tiered & targeted Mental Health and Well-Being Capacity Building and PD opportunities (i.e. SMH ASSIST resources, CPS, SafeTAlk, ASIST)