Student Mental Health and Addictions Newsletter - February 2024

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Supporting your Mental Health through the Winter

Dear Families, 

In this edition we will focus on embracing the unique challenges and joys of the winter season. As our high school students embark on a new semester post-exams and our elementary students continue their educational journey, we aim to enhance family enjoyment and support during this time. Look forward to tips on maximising the March Break, Family Day, and utilising recreational community resources. As we embrace the chilly embrace of winter, it's the perfect time to nurture warmth in our relationships. 


Supporting Mental Health During Winter

Connection: Staying connected to family, friends and community are also a great way to support Mental Health over the winter months. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) reminds us that social support can come in a variety of forms such as emotional support, and also practical help. Creating support networks can be challenging, and CMHA also has some helpful suggestions on this.  Resources like the Peer Support Warm Line can be a helpful resource for adults to connect with peer support if feeling anxious, worried or isolated. We know that there are many ways to feel connected to the people in our lives, a phone call, a meet up, religious service and many more. We can also feel connected to others through conversations with strangers

Healthy Relationships: Fostering healthy relationships is fundamental to creating a supportive, fair, and nurturing educational environment. By guiding students in recognizing and valuing different perspectives and identities, empathising with peers, practising attentive listening, and managing conflicts in a respectful manner, you contribute to their overall mental health. 

Physical Activity: With the colder temperatures, we may find it difficult to get outside and exercise, but exercise is so vital to our physical and mental health. Think about the types of physical activity that feel safe and comfortable for you to do. You might pick a corner of your home to exercise, or even follow a workout routine online. Remember, you don’t need to have much equipment, time, or space to stay active during the chilly months. You might even think about how you can exercise with friends or family, as a way to foster connection and social interaction. 

Free Virtual Movement Programs for Kids:

Free Virtual Educational Programs for Kids:

Free Virtual Mental Health Activities for Kids:

Resources for Community Involvement


Parent/Caregiver Series Supporting Learning about Mental Health

The YRDSB Central Mental Health Team is proud to be offering the Learning about Mental Health Presentation Series (LAMPS). The objective of the series is to promote and enhance mental health literacy. The first session is Anxiety in School-Aged Youth, a Presentation for Parents and Caregivers and will occur virtually on February 28 from 6 - 7 p.m. The presentation will focus on the characteristics of anxiety, and some general strategies that may be beneficial in supporting your children and their anxiety. These sessions are offered to any parent/guardian. Translation will be provided in 6 languages. Online Registration available.


Supportive Resources

Mental Health Resources in York Region

YorkHills Here to Help Line (905-503-9561) 

  • The Here to Help Line is a free service available to children/youth (0-18 years) and their parents/caregiver/adult supporters.

  • Monday to Thursday from 2:00p.m.-7:00p.m. 

Family Services York Region (905-895-2371)

  • Virtual walk in is operated on a first come, first serve basis, and can be accessed once per month.

  • Virtual appointments can be 15 minutes to 1.5 hours long depending on your specific needs.

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

CMHA BounceBack Ontario

  • Feeling sad, irritable or stressed out sometimes? Do you feel that maybe you could benefit from some support? BounceBack® gives you access to materials and resources that will support you in learning new skills through workbooks, activities, videos, and a trained coach who can provide up to six telephone sessions.

  • BounceBack Coaching is available through the provincial Ontario Structured Psychotherapy program. Offered to youth aged 15-17 and adults 18+.

YRDSB Mental Health Resource Page 


Community Events


York Services Support Network

Kerry's Place Autism Services 

  • Sibling Story Time  

    • Monday February 5th 2024 from 4:30pm-5:30pm 

    • This Foundational Family Service uses storytelling with children’s books to help children aged 5-7 with a sibling with Autism learn more about Autism and embrace differences. This event is virtual. 

Kinark Autism Services  


Yorkhills Centre for Children, Youth and Families

Family Services York Region

  •  Free To Be

    • Third Monday of Each Month, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

    • This is a free virtual group for parents/caregivers of gender diverse children, regardless of age which meets once a month. Free to Be offers an opportunity to meet for support and education. The goal of this program is to destigmatize gender diversity

Kinark Autism Services  

  • Parent Social Time- Coffee Chat 

    • February 5th 2024 from 7:00pm-8:00pm 

  • Transition to High School  

    • February 5th 2024 from 12:30pm-2:30pm 

    • The transition to High School workshop is tailored to prepare families with helpful information and tips to help decrease some of the stress and anxiety related to this significant milestone.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder and Executive Functioning 

    • February 26th, 2024 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    • Many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience challenges with executive functions.The aims of the session are to provide caregivers with a general understanding of the different components of executive function, the impact on daily activities, and strategies/suggestions to support a child with executive function challenges.


  • Coffee Night, held every second Monday of the month, is a safe space where members of the LGBTQ2 community, their friends, family or allies can come together. 

  • Online Registration


Mental Health Team

This edition of the newsletter was written by the Student Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Implementation Team 2023-2024, inclusive of YRDSB School Social Workers Ruth Damdar, Kymani Spence, Peter Reid and Kate Phillips.

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

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

Paula Vicente M.S.W., R.S.W.

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