Schools Closed to Students for Remainder of School Year

The Ministry of Education has announced that all schools will remain closed to students and staff for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. Students will continue virtual learning during this time.


Section I: Mental Health and Addiction Strategy

Table of Contents:

  • ​​Overview of the Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
  • Well-Being and Mental Health As a Board Priority
  • YRDSB Mental Health and Addiction Strategy
  • School Mental Health ASSIST
  • Role of the Mental Health Lead
  • COMPASS - Community Partners with Schools
  • Mental Health and Addiction Nurses (MHAN)
  • Mental Health and Addiction Resources


Overview of the Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Strategy


In June 2011, Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy was announced. The province aims to “reduce the burden of mental illness and addictions by ensuring that all Ontarians have timely access to an integrated system of excellent, coordinated and efficient promotion, prevention, early intervention, community support and treatment programs” (Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, 2011, p 7). The overarching goals of the Strategy include:

  • To improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians;
  • To support the creation of healthy, resilient and inclusive communities;
  • To identify mental health and addiction problems early and intervene; and
  • To provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-directed health and human services.


This Strategy focuses on children and youth in the first three years, and will be supported by several Ministries, under the leadership of the Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS). There are three key target areas:

  • Fast access to high-quality services,
  • Early identification and support, and
  • Help for vulnerable children and youth with unique needs.



Well-Being and Mental Health As a Board Priority


Mental Health is all of our responsibility. Everyone in the organization contributes to the mental health and ultimately well-being of individuals and of the organization.


  • We value partnerships with students, staff members, parents and the community in support of positive mental health. By building trust and working collaboratively we are better able to support positive mental health, reducing barriers to learning and increasing academic achievement.
  • We believe that positive relationships are integral to mental health and well-being.
  • We believe a continuum of integrated, school and community mental health systems that are evidence informed are essential.
  • We acknowledge that this work will result in system transformation and requires us to be innovative, rethinking our current landscape.
  • We take a long term view acknowledging that systemic change requires patience, persistence, and commitment.



York Region District School Board values positive mental health and considers it a key priority. The focus on well-being and mental health is evident in the Director's Annual Plan and the Multi-Year Strategic Plan​ which articulate the achievement and well-being of our underserved and underperforming students as our core work. 

Multi-Year Strategic Plan Infographic



Foster Well-Being and Mental Health

We create safe, healthy and inclusive learning and working environments.


To raise the achievement and well-being of our underserved and underperforming students, we will:

1. Build safe, healthy and inclusive learning and working environments where students and staff feel they matter and belong.


YRDSB Mental Health and Addiction Strategy

The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) values positive mental health as fundamental to student achievement and well-being. Mental health can be viewed as a continuum from health to illness. Schools are ideal settings for mental health promotion, addiction awareness education, resiliency development, and connecting those in need to care pathways. Early identification and intervention are important because many mental health challenges manifest in childhood and appropriate care is not often accessed.


The Mental Health and Addiction Strategy​ provides direction for actions in classrooms, schools and the system to foster optimal mental health and well-being.

The pillars focus on the following:

  • Building Knowledge and Capacity
  • Developing Mentally Healthy Environments
  • Reducing Stigma
  • Creating Collaborative Care Pathways


To support understanding of a specific school context, visit YRDSB's Mental Health Targets​.


Print Version of Strategy​



School Mental Health ASSIST


School Mental Health ​ASSIST​ is a provincial implementation support team designed to help Ontario school boards to promote student mental health and well-being, through leadership, practical resources and systematic research-based approaches to school mental health.


Within the YRDSB we have developed new structures to support the development and implementation of the Mental Health and Addiction Strategy. These include:


Mental Health System Leadership Team

The Mental Health System Leadership Team is made up of Senior Leadership, CEC, School and Department leaders. This group is responsible for high level strategy design and implementation planning.

Strategic Working Groups

The Strategic Working Groups are responsible for defining and implementing activity within schools and workplaces across our four priority areas.


  • Building Knowledge and Capacity
  • Developing Mentally Healthy Environments
  • Reducing Stigma
  • Creating Collaborative Care Pathways



Specialized Working Groups

In addition we have several Specialized Working Groups, which require specialized expertise.


  • Substance Misuse: this working group is a partnership with Caring and Safe Environments and several community partners with an expertise in substance misuse and addiction.
  • Protocol, Policy and Procedures: this working group supports the implementation of the mental health and addiction strategy by developing the required protocols, policies, and procedures.


As the work unfolds, new structures and working groups will be created to respond to the changing needs of our schools and communities. We look forward to the continued support and engagement as we together develop mentally healthy schools and communities.


For more information visit School Mental Health ASSIST​​.



Role of the Mental Health Lead


Mental Health Leads are full-time senior mental health professionals with dedicated responsibility for:

  • Responsible to lead the design and implementation of the YRDSB Mental Health and Addiction Strategy
  • Conducting/updating board and school level resource mapping to determine areas of strength and need
  • Providing leadership for the board mental health team
  • Working with senior administration to develop and implement the board mental health & addiction strategy
  • Coordinating systematic mental health literacy initiatives in the board
  • Selecting and supporting evidence-based approaches to mental health promotion and prevention
  • Collaborating with board and community professionals to promote clear and integrated access to services



How are the Mental Health Leaders positioned in School Boards?

The Mental Health Lead reports to, and works closely with, the Superintendent of Students Services. In addition, they work to ensure intersections with the work of other initiatives including Caring and Safe Environments, Leadership Development and Curriculum and Instructional Services. They work alongside the Chief Psychologist and Social Worker as part of a board mental health leadership team. Mental Health Leads are a key point of contact for new community based professionals hired to support boards as part of the Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.



COMPASS - Community Partners with Schools


COMPASS (Community Partners with Schools) is both a process and multi-organizational structure that aims to complement, enrich and intensify mental health services to young people and their families.


COMPASS represents a joint effort on the part of schools and community-based mental health agencies to identify and offer support to young people and their families at school and where relevant, in other settings, including the home. As a process, COMPASS seeks to provide meaningful and impactful interventions and services while at the same time impacting the way systems respond to the needs of young people and their families. The process includes clinical, relational and navigational components designed to improve the capacity of young people and their families to manage their challenges while also enhancing the service system’s capacity to respond creatively to the needs of young people and their families in a timely manner and a personalized format.


As an organizational structure, COMPASS is built on the principles of collaborative partnership amongst education and mental health focused organizations. COMPASS manages the work of clinical staff who are based in school settings and work as members of school-based intervention teams, but who are employed by partner agencies within the community. Both the process and the organizational structure of COMPASS are closely aligned to other school-based mental health services offered by community-based agencies in York Region in partnership with the Boards of Education.


COMPASS promotes knowledge transfer and the on-going integration of practice approaches between the education and the children’s mental health sectors. As such, COMPASS seeks to generate transformative initiatives that challenge both sectors to integrate the accumulated experiences, knowledge, research and values of either sector into a mutually designed path of individual, organizational and systemic learning.


The current hosting partners include: Kinark Child and Family Services, York Hills Centre for Children, Youth and Families, Family Services of York Region, York Catholic District School Board, York Region District School Board.


Affiliated partners include: Southlake Regional Centre, Jewish Family and Child Services, York Children's Aid Society.


​Mental Health and Addiction Nurses (MHAN)


The services offered by these nurses complement the programs already provided through schools and community-based mental health and addiction organizations.


Students with mental health and addiction issues cared for at home and in their communities are starting to benefit from the early, specialized attention provided by these specialized nurses.


Key Facts about the Mental Health and Addictions (MHAN) initiative


  • The initiative is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC).
  • The initiative supports children and youth in schools who may have mild to complex mental health and/or substance abuse issues.
  • The initiative supports students transitioning back to school from the hospital or other care setting.


What do CCAC MHAN nurses do?

Our unrelenting focus is on the success of students with mental health or addiction issues to thrive at school, remain in school or successfully transition back to school. Our nurses collaborate with school boards, teachers and community-based organizations to support students in their early struggles with mental health and addictions.


School boards know their students best. CCAC nurses partner with school boards to recognize and respond to student mental health and addictions issues. In addition, CCAC Nurse Leaders support community nurses, support the development of school board strategies, participate in health care system planning, and collaborate with community health partners to ensure consistent support for children and youth across the province.


Learn more at Health Shared Services Ontario​.



Mental Health and Addiction Resources​


Ministry Resources

​​​Online Resources