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We Help Update – Fall 2023

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World Mental Health DayBack to our Mental Health and Well-being page.

World Mental Health Day – October 10 

Each year on October 10, the World Health Organization raises awareness of mental health issues around the world through World Mental Health Day. The 2023 edition is an opportunity for people and communities to unite behind the theme “Mental health is a universal human right” to improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right. 

At HWDSB, we are marking World Mental Health Day 2023 with a new We Help Update. Students and families can explore the tabs below to find mental health resources, supports and events.  

If you are a student looking to make your voice heard, click the “Student Voice Groups” tab to find details about the four different student committees that are now recruiting members:

If you are a student looking to display your creativity, the HWDSB Helps Poster Contest is for you. HWDSB Helps is a free and anonymous way for students to find help for themselves and one another. Now, we need your help designing a new poster! Click the “HWDSB Helps Poster Contest” tab to learn more.

AFFIRM Is an eight-session Cognitive-Based Therapy informed treatment group specifically for Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ youth to develop coping skills for anxiety and stress related to experiences of discrimination as a result of their sexual and gender identities. The goals of AFFIRM are to decrease unhelpful thoughts, feel better about yourself and lives, and to make healthy choices for sexual and mental health.
Please contact wehelp@hwdsb.on.ca if you have any questions.

TRAILS Anxiety and Depression
TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students) groups are designed to help children and youth (grades 4 to 6, 7 to 8, and 9 to 12) who struggle with moderate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and/or depression by teaching evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness skills.
For more information, please contact the Principal/Vice-Principal or Social Worker at your school or wehelp@hwdsb.on.ca.

Teen Activation Group (TAG)
TAG is a treatment group for youth (grades 9 to 12) struggling with depression and anxiety who are not ready to access other treatment options. The group is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Behaviour Activation Therapy. The goal of the group is to help children and youth to reduce their depressive and anxious symptoms and increase their overall activity level, so they can access other treatment options or so they no longer require treatment.
For more information, please contact the Principal/Vice-Principal or Social Worker at your school or wehelp@hwdsb.on.ca.

mental health resources for students pdfMore Resources for Students

Click here for Community Supports and Mental Health Resources for Students

Use HWDSB’s Community Supports and Mental Health Resources for Students list to find:

  • Individual Supports
  • Group Supports
  • Provincial Resources
  • Crisis Services
  • Community Supports

Use the associated links to register, and find detailed descriptions for sessions in the menus below.

Session Title Date Time Link to Register/Attend
Families Worrying Less Together Info Session November 1 12-1 p.m. hwdsb.info/fwlt-nov-12pm
Families Worrying Less Together Info Session November 1 6-7 p.m. hwdsb.info/fwlt-nov-6pm
Emotion Coaching Webinar November 23 9:30-11 a.m. hwdsb.info/emotion-coaching-nov23
Emotion Coaching Webinar December 13 6:30-8 p.m. hwdsb.info/emotion-coaching-dec23


Emotion Coaching

Emotion Coaching is a communication strategy that can calm the brain in as little as 60 seconds and help improve relationships.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, and Hamilton Family Health Team invite parents and caregivers to explore Emotion Coaching in a 90-minute webinar, and if interested, a six-week parent/caregiver group for further learning. Click the following links to register for one of the 90-minute webinars:

October 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. – hwdsb.info/emotion-coaching-oct23

November 23 from 9:30-11 a.m. – hwdsb.info/emotion-coaching-nov23 

December 13 from 6:30-8 p.m. – hwdsb.info/emotion-coaching-dec23 

To register for the six-week parent/caregiver group, please call the Hamilton Family Health Team, Mental Health Groups line at 905-667-4852. We encourage caregivers to participate in a webinar before joining the caregiver group, however, it is not required.

What is Emotion Coaching?
Emotion Coaching is a communication strategy that can calm the brain in as little as 60 seconds, and help improve relationships. Emotion Coaching has two steps:

  • Validation: Letting someone know we understand why they feel, think or act a certain way.
  • Support: Then, we provide emotional and practical support using strategies like reassurance, limit-setting, redirecting, collaborative problem-solving, teaching skills, etc.

Learning in Webinars

  • Introduction to Emotion Coaching and how it can improve relationships with your child/youth
  • Understanding the role of emotions
  • Linking Emotion Coaching to neuroscience
  • Reviewing Emotion Coaching approaches

PDF Flyer: Emotion Coaching for Parents-Caregivers- Fall 2023
Parent/Caregiver Cheat Sheet: Emotion Coaching Cheat Sheet for Parents and Caregivers
Video: Learn more about Emotion Coaching at HWDSB

Families Worrying Less Together

If you are the parent/primary caregiver of a student in grades JK to 8 who is excessively shy or has intense worries and fears, come learn about the Families Worrying Less Together program. This program will give you practical strategies to help your child learn to cope differently. Please note: This program is for parents and primary caregivers, children do not attend. 

October 18 from 12-1 p.m. –  hwdsb.info/fwlt-oct-12pm

October 18 from 6-7 p.m. – hwdsb.info/fwlt-oct-6pm

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Events

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training
October 11 & 12

At a LivingWorks ASIST workshop, you’ll learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive. Two knowledgeable, supportive trainers will guide you through the course, ensuring your comfort and safety.

Click here to register. 

Mental Health First Aid
November 1 & 2

Certificate-based training on Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) – the support provided to a person who may be experiencing a decline in their mental well-being or a mental health crisis.

Click here to register.

Mental Health Minute with Nick Petrella
October 31 from 12-1 p.m.

This month’s Mental Health Minute will focus exclusively on men’s mental health. In this session, we will explore strategies for improving mental well-being and breaking down stigma. This session will encourage open conversations and offer valuable insights into supporting men’s mental health. 

Click here to register.

Mental Health Minute with Nick Petrella
November 28 from 12-1 p.m.

In this session, Nick will explore the key principles and strategies for nurturing strong, fulfilling connections with others. This session will provide valuable insights into communication, trust, and mutual growth within relationships. 

Click here to register.

More Resources for Parents

Community Supports and Mental Health Resources for Parents and Caregivers
mental health resources for parents
Use HWDSB’s Community Supports and Mental Health Resources for Parents list to find:

  • Individual Supports
  • Workshops & Groups
  • Resources by Topic
  • Provincial Resources
  • Crisis Services
  • Community Supports


Student Advisory Groups

four hwdsb student groupsHWDSB is committed to developing safer, more equitable and more inclusive learning environments. To support student learning and well-being, HWDSB has a responsibility to ensure student voice is centered, valued, and acted upon. Creating a positive school board culture and environment where all students and staff feel safe, supported, and accepted is one of the goals of the HWDSB Equity Action Plan.  

Student Voice Advisory Committees are part of the ongoing effort to achieve this goal and include the voices, experience, insight, and ideas of students who belong to groups which have been historically and currently marginalized by the education system. They allow participants to reflect upon their identities, and to share their lived experiences as well as specific challenges and successes. Current groups recruiting members include:  

These committees will serve to connect students from different schools and provide insight on policies, programs and practices to improve outcomes for all students. Meetings will occur at least once per month in person and/or via MS Teams and will be facilitated by HWDSB staff. 

Students can click the links above to find individual flyers for each group. To express interest in joining one of these groups, please click the application link below and staff will follow up with more information. The deadline to express interest in the Student Voice Groups is 4 p.m. on Friday, October 20. 

Click here or visit hwdsb.info/student-groups-2023 to express interest in an HWDSB Student Voice Group. 

HWDSB Helps Poster Contest

HWDSB Helps needs a new look! We are holding a poster contest for students in Kindergarten to  Grade 12. Entries should include: artwork (illustrations, digital media etc.) and/or messaging that demonstrates students supporting students. Prizes will be awarded in each age group (P/J/I/S). Please send submissions to: SafeSchoolsAdvisory_Student@hwdsb.on.ca

HWDSB Helps is a free and anonymous way for students to find help for themselves and one another. Tips may relate to student mental health, bullying, substance use and more. When students, staff and families help promote a positive school environment, schools are safer and more welcoming places. The service receives anonymous messages and shares the report with staff who follow existing Board and school protocols. 

We are hosting a HWDSB Helps Poster Contest with prizes! The winning posters will be displayed throughout HWDSB schools. Students can enter the contest by creating and submitting their own HWDSB Helps poster. Your poster should include a title, a description, and visuals.  

Students wishing to participate can submit a poster themselves, or ask a family member or teacher for help. Here are the instructions: 

  • Submit posters to: SafeSchoolsAdvisory_Student@hwdsb.on.ca  
  • Subject line: HWDSB Helps Poster – DIVISION (Primary/Junior/Intermediate/Secondary)
    • Example: HWDSB Helps Poster – Primary  
  • Please submit a photo of the poster and keep the original 
  • Please list the school, student name, grade and educator name 

In case of crisis, call 911 or visit your local hospital emergency room. For urgent support, contact Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868; www.kidshelpphone.ca; text CONNECT) or COAST Hamilton (905-972-8338; www.coasthamilton.ca).

Updated on Monday, October 30, 2023.
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