TORONTO, June 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's Public Directors of Education
are urging the Province of Ontario to stay the course on ensuring youth
receive timely, appropriate and local mental health supports.
The Public Council of Ontario Directors of Education (PCODE) today
released a position paper, endorsed by the Canadian Mental Health
Association - Ontario, on Children's Mental Health. Through the
position paper, PCODE encourages the Province to forge ahead with the
planned roll-out outlined in Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and
Addictions Strategy, released in June, 2011.
In its first three years, the strategy is to specifically target
children and youth.
"School boards in Ontario are challenged to continuously improve student
achievement and well-being," said Martyn Beckett, chair of PCODE and
Director of Education with the Durham District School Board. "Mental
health issues and substance abuse can have a significant negative
impact on achieving these goals."
PCODE encourages the Province to promote cross-sector collaboration to
support children's mental health, with an eye to fast, easy access to
high quality service and earlier intervention.
To date, the strategy has seen an increase in mental health workers in
schools, communities and courts, and more nurses working in schools to
support early identification and intervention.
"We know early intervention is key and are pleased to see the efforts of
the Province on this front to date," Beckett said.
For its part, PCODE believes it is incumbent upon school districts to
act as a supportive partner to mental health professionals. Districts
must work collaboratively with community partners to remove barriers to
care and promote evidence-based program and intervention strategies.
"As Directors of Public Education, we really appreciate the direction
the Province is taking around youth mental health," Beckett said. "It
is our hope that roll-out of the strategy continues and is perhaps even
accelerated, given the potential positive impact on the community we
serve - students."
It is estimated that one in five children has a mental health challenge,
and that 70 per cent of mental health challenges begin in childhood or
PCODE serves over 1.2 million students, and represents the chief
education officers and chief executive officers of the 31 public
district school boards in Ontario. Members of the organization provide
leadership and management skills necessary to ensure high-quality
organizations dedicated to improving student achievement and
"This paper represents another landmark in the recognition of the
balance between public education and mental well-being. Directors of
education are in a unique position to guide system change on the mental
health portfolio - their presence at the provincial coalition table and
their work on this paper is indicative of the momentum building around
mental well-being throughout education. We in education can and want to
be part of the solution."
Catherine Fife, President, Ontario Public School Boards' Association
"The Ontario Principals' Council congratulates PCODE on a timely and
focussed position paper on children's mental health. Because our
Principal and Vice-Principal members consider this an area of critical
importance, we fully endorse this paper and its worthy intent."
Ian Mcfarlane, Executive Director, Ontario Principals' Council
"The Ontario Public Supervisory Officials' Association shares the
interest of the public directors of education in the mental health and
well-being of our students, their families and our communities, and
wholeheartedly endorses the PCODE Position Paper on Children's Mental
Health. As supervisory officials committed to ensuring all students
achieve their potential, we support PCODE's recommendations and look
forward to continuing to work with PCODE as the 'Open Minds, Healthy Minds' vision is realized."
Ken Bain, President, Ontario Public Supervisory Officials' Association
(OPSOA); Associate Director of Education, Hamilton-Wentworth District
Public Council of Ontario Directors of Education (PCODE)
The Public Council of Ontario Directors of Education (PCODE) represents
the chief education officers and chief executive officers of the 31
public district school boards in Ontario. PCODE members provide the
leadership and management skills required to ensure high quality
organizations, dedicated to improving student achievement and
well-being. PCODE members serve over 1.2 million Ontario students.
CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH
Why Mental Health?
School Boards in Ontario are challenged to continuously improve student
achievement and well-being. Mental health and substance abuse have a
significant negative impact on achieving these goals. The following
excerpt from Taking Mental Health to School: A Policy-oriented Paper on School-based
Mental Health for Ontario (2009) highlights the issue:
"Epidemiological studies indicate that up to one in five children and
youth suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder including substance
abuse. Many more students experience mental health difficulties that
cause significant problems. These disorders and difficulties impose
considerable barriers to the normal academic, emotional and
social-developmental tasks of childhood and adolescence…"
PCODE supports the four guiding goals identified in "Open Minds, Healthy Minds":
Improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians
Create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities
Identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene
Provide timely, high-quality, integrated, person-directed health and
PCODE supports the allocation of resources identified in Ministry of
Education Memorandum: "Mental Health and Addictions Supports for District School Boards":
New Resource and Professional Learning Opportunity Supports
Additional Mental Health Workers (MCYS)
Additional Mental Health and Addictions Nurses (MOHLTC)
New Mental Health Leaders (EDU)
New School Mental Health Supports (ASSIST)
PCODE will continue to monitor and assess these additional resources to
determine their benefit to students.
CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH
PCODE is a key partner, sharing responsibility for implementation of the
children's mental health strategy and therefore advocates consistency
and clarity in achieving the vision of "Open Minds, Healthy Minds".
PCODE recommends that the Government of Ontario:
Promote cross-sector collaboration in support of children's mental
Deliver fast, easy access to high quality service
Identify and intervene in children's mental health early
Close critical service gaps for vulnerable students and those in remote
and underserviced communities
Enhance the supports within school boards and communities to provide
leadership, training and services related to children's mental health
Engage and align federal and provincial partners in the provision of
enhanced support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in
effectively dealing with children's mental health and substance abuse.
PCODE recommends that all school boards and cross-sector partners:
Acknowledge that clinical support and intervention for children's mental
health should be led and managed by mental health professionals and
that the school boards' role is that of a supportive partner
Work collaboratively to remove barriers that hinder effective
implementation of the children's mental health strategy
Work collaboratively to promote evidence-based program and intervention
strategies related to children's mental health
Work collaboratively to develop an accountability structure to assess
the effectiveness of our efforts to address the four guiding goals
identified in "Open Minds, Healthy Minds"
References: Cornerstone reports and memoranda that demonstrate
commitment in this area include:
2006-Canadian Senate Committee Report- "Out of the Shadows at Last"
2009-Government of Ontario Report - "Taking Mental Health to School: A Policy-oriented Paper on School-based
2011 (June) -"Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and
2011 (October) - "Ontario's Three Year Child and Youth Mental Health Plan"
2011 (November) - "Mental Health and Addictions Supports for District School Boards"
Key Working Group: "Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health"
SOURCE Ontario Public Supervisory Officials' Association
For further information:
Assistant to the Executive Director of OPSOA/CODE
Executive Assistant, OPSOA/CODE