Student Mental Health and Addictions Newsletter - October 2022

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Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy: A Holistic Approach to Mental Health, Within Us, Between Us, Around Us

Circle diagram.three nested circles. The smallest circle reads Within. The middle circle reads Between. The largest circle reads Around


Dear families, caregivers and beyond,

The York Region District School Board is pleased to share the Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy: A Holistic Approach to Mental Health, Within Us, Between Us, Around Us to support the alignment of the Well-Being and Mental Health goals outlined in the Director’s Action Plan (DAP) and our ongoing commitment to Student Well-Being and Mental Health.

The strategy was co-constructed based on extensive internal and external consultation with students, parents, staff affinity groups, community groups, mental health advocacy groups and beyond. The Strategy aims to advance students’ mental health and well-being through the promotion of health, culturally responsive and healing-centred engagement, enhancing capacity, prevention of illness, and support when needed.  In a way that honours the student's identity and sense of self, fosters inclusion, mattering and belonging and builds community.

Acknowledging that there are many different individual and community understandings of the parts of mental health, the Strategy focuses on three main concepts:

Within: can be explained as the gifts and assets of our self/spirit, various intersecting identities, and traditions, as well as our cognitive and emotional well-being;

Between: can be explained as the social aspect of the relationships we have with other people, our families, and communities and beyond;

Around: can be explained as the families, communities, and learning/social environments that surround us. This also encompasses experiences of different life events, as well as systemic factors such as oppression, colonialization and racism, discrimination and marginalization. In addition, it includes access to culturally representative and responsive support and resources.

Each area, Within, Between, and Around will be enhanced by the implementation of specific priority actions for the system, school/classroom, student, and family/community. To learn more about the specific priority actions, please review the Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy: A Holistic Approach to Mental Health, Within Us, Between Us, Around Us.

Beginning this October, all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will have an opportunity to engage in a class/school-based activity that focuses on the concept of Within. This activity supports educators in intentionally establishing healthy, safe, inclusive, and critically conscious learning environments; centred on the integral parts of identity. Beyond this, the activity creates an opportunity for positive identity formation and affirmation and mattering and explores:

  • Belonging, being and becoming. 
  • What makes me who I am?
  • Who/what am I connected to?
  • What are my goals, dreams and aspirations?
  • What grounds me and gives me confidence and hope?
  • Who are my supports, the people that lift me up?

When students know that they matter, belong and are cared for by those around them, they are best able to succeed, thrive, be hopeful and welcome new opportunities and learning.  We continue to look forward to a year of learning, discovery, and joy alongside you.


Additional Resources


Mental Health Team

Patricia Marra-Stapleton, M.Sc., C. Psych. Assoc. 

Mental Health Lead 


Hoshana Calliste, M.S.W., R.S.W

Assistant Coordinator of Mental Health


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