When people talk about supporting and promoting mental well-being in schools, they usually discuss the practices they use in their environment. Some people are focused on school connectedness, others on social-emotional learning, resilience, mental fitness, or another approach.
While each of these approaches has its own flavour, they are all part of the larger family of positive mental health supportive practices. Some people may see them as competing approaches, but they are not. They overlap and work side-by-side, each strengthening the impact of the others. They all lead to the same place – improved well-being for children and youth. Think of the different approaches as smoothie flavours; they have a lot in common, but some people prefer one flavour over another.
Some of the themes shared by the various approaches include:
ü Providing students with the emotional and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school
ü Creating caring relationships that promote trust and open communication, and make students feel supported and nurtured
ü Providing professional learning and support for school staff so they can meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of students
ü Establishing structures and processes that enable, empower and engage students, families, staff and all school community members and support student achievement
ü Providing opportunities for families to be involved in their children’s school lives, and inviting community organizations to partner with the school
ü Using effective teaching and learning methods and classroom management techniques to foster positive learning environments
So go ahead, pick your favourite positive mental health approach, and also consider exploring some of the other “flavours” now and then. They might bring new insights, or reinvigorate your practice. Anyone for a banana-chocolate smoothie?
To learn more about the practices and approaches that support mental well-being, see Schools as a Setting for Positive Mental Health: Better Practices and Perspectives. The school connectedness area on the Healthy Schools BC website and the JCSH Positive Mental Health Toolkit can help you take action on positive mental health at your school. Search “mental well-being” on TeachBC to find classroom resources to support this work.