Student Mental Health and Addictions Newsletter - December 2022

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Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy

A Closer Look At The Concept of “Between and Around”


Dear Families, 

In the November edition of the Student Mental Health and Addictions Newsletter

We took a closer look at the concept of Within.  In this edition, we continue to focus on the Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy (SMHAS): A Holistic Approach to Mental Health, Within Us, Between Us, Around Us by taking a closer look at the concept of “Between” and “Around” and the associated priority actions. 

More than words on paper, the SMHAS strategy is created to be action-oriented. With an understanding that actions, accountability and collaboration are needed to foster identity-affirming and healing-centred spaces that enhance mental health.

To uphold the collaborative process of our strategy development and honour the voices and contributions of students, families, communities, organizations and staff who shared their wisdom with us, we have co-created a multifaceted, holistic framework informed by many voices. This framework encompasses mental health and wellness that is inclusive of the whole person and the many intersections (intersectionality ) and relationships that are encompassed within their social identities.  This speaks to the key concepts of Between and Around.



Betweencan be explained as the social aspect of our relationships with other people, our families, and communities. This includes but is not limited to our connections and relationships with faith groups, elders and beyond. The Between action areas focus on building capacity, understanding and resources with people, families, and communities in YRDSB to address trauma, racial trauma and other forms of harm while supporting healing and growth.  We approach the development of the Between priority actions with an understanding that we, as a school board, are not the experts in the lives of our students and families. We are not the gatekeepers of knowledge and wisdom. As such, we will learn from, with and alongside students and families. With the ongoing exploration of how wellness is supported and affirmed across communities? 

Some of the ways in which we hope to co-learn together are through the 

Between Family/Community Priority Actions: Action 2.7 

five student smiling with their arms around each other outdoors

 This includes but is not limited to:

  • Collaborating with family and caregiver groups to learn how to best support culturally responsive gatherings and learning opportunities for families.



Around can be explained as the families, communities, and learning/social environments that surround us. This can include connections to land, water, ancestors, and other meaningful relationships. The Around can also encompass many factors and experiences that can impact wellness, such as experiences of different life events and systemic factors such as oppression, colonialism and racism, discrimination and marginalization. The Around priority area is supported through priority actions that work towards building safe, mentally healthy, and inclusive learning environments where students feel they matter and belong and create Identity Specific collaboration and care and pathways that are responsive to students and families.

Around Family/Community  Priority Actions: Action 3.9 

This actionfocuses on building and supporting identity-affirming, culturally responsive, mental health-focused partnerships with families.

 This can include but is not limited to:

• Continued partnership with community groups to develop and offer mental health promotion events and initiatives for families and caregivers that are culturally and linguistically relevant and responsive.


Within  Between  Around:

The concept of Within, Between and Around encourages us to honour the different ways of knowing, being, healing and growing. Along with understanding the many relationships, factors/experiences that may impact a person’s mental health. Through healing-centred engagement and identity-affirming practices, we hope to create learning environments that center on student and community strengths, wisdom, and excellence, building and sustaining positive relationships and creating learning environments where children and families can bring their whole selves to school.

To learn more about the SMHAS and associated priority areas/actions, please visit Student Mental Health and Addiction Strategy (SMHAS): A Holistic Approach to Mental Health, Within Us, Between Us, Around Us.

A call to action: As we work towards enhancing student mental health and well-being and creating spaces that honour, affirms and uplifts students for who they are, we invite you on the journey with us. Families are invited to use the prompts below to continue exploring the concept of Between and Around through conversations about relationships and experiences.

Inward reflection: What are the relationships and connections that are meaningful to me? How do these relationships and connections support my mental health and well-being? 

Outward consideration: How might I support connections and relationships that strengthen and support positive mental health for my child or someone I care about? 

Actions we can take that foster positive relationships Around us:

“Everything you do and say is a little clue to the people around you as to how approachable and trustworthy you are.…. Being inclusive, compassionate, helpful, and a good listener in your daily interactions signals to others that you care about people and you’re a safe person to reach out to….”  - Be There resource 

How might we show care in our interactions with those around us and those we encounter? A little care and compassion goes a long way. 

  • Offer a smile, a  wave, a hello
  • Offer a helping hand and or words of encouragement if and when you can
  • Take time to check in on someone 
  • The Be There resource offers many ways we can demonstrate care 
  • School Mental Health Ontario shares Skills for students: Having healthy relationships with others
  • At home: Make time to connect in a way that is meaningful for your household, to listen, to eat, to play…
  • Engage in conversations from a place of understanding
  • Take time to build relationships and learn about others with care and curious

We continue to learn from and with students, families and YRDSB communities and continue to look forward to a year of learning, discovery, and joy alongside you. 


Supportive Resources

YorkHills Here to Help Line
  • Telephone: (905) 503-9561
  • The Here to Help Line is a free service available to children, youth (0-18) and their parents, caregiver or adult supporters.
YRDSB Mental Health Resource Page
  • Continue to check out the YRDSB website for updated information as well as the Twitter account @YRDSB
  • Follow YRDSB Mental Health on Twitter @MH_YRDSB
Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy
Indigenous Education And Equity Strategy


Free YRDSB and  community events

Parent/caregiver series supporting students of Chinese Heritage.


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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