Jan. 21 Update: Mental Health Resources

posted Jan 21, 2021, 7:57 AM by Sean Crookshank

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Please see the Mental Health Spotlight shared by our board.  This resource, and other important updates, can be found in the Ottawa Catholic School Parent Association’s January Newsletter.

Welcome to our Mental Health Spotlight! Each month the OCSB Mental Health department will be highlighting a different topic surrounding mental health to support parents, students and their families.

Mental health strategies for a safe and gentle return to school.

As we begin a new year, setting resolutions may feel like a “must do” to start the year on “the right path.” We often create our resolutions based on unaccomplished goals from the previous year and high expectations of ourselves on January 1st. Resolutions may eventually feel unattainable and perhaps even exaggerated at the best of times, but may have more power to disappoint during COVID-19.    

This January again will be different for our students and families as remote learning will be in full effect as a result of the lockdown in Ontario. Based on what we know from 2020, patience, flexibility and resilience in starting this new year are keys to success for parents, educators and students. It will also be essential to establish step-by-step strategies and routines as well as a renewed sense of hope that we will get past these times as a community constrained by COVID-19. Recognizing the presence of mental health concerns and identifying these concerns at an early stage is the best intervention. Providing caring support and listening to one another can go a long way towards preventing and/or worsening difficulties. 

Instead of focusing on resolutions, why don’t we use the start of a new year to prioritize time to model and promote self-care, bridging connections and relationships and empathy? Supporting mental health can begin by modelling behaviours and coping strategies. Several helpful stress management strategies that can be introduced at any age include:

Distraction strategies (e.g., doing something enjoyable to take a break)

Visualization strategies (e.g., taking a mini-vacation in your mind)

Noticing strategies (e.g., paying attention to everyday heroes and good news)

Thought-changing strategies (e.g., challenging negative unfounded thoughts and focus on positive thoughts)

Breathing and Relaxation strategies (e.g., learning to focus breathing and promote awareness)

As was noted in a December OCSB memo, if you are concerned about your child’s mental health, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) offers various services to help those struggling with mental health concerns. To learn more about how to talk about mental health, check out have THAT talk.

Please visit OPH’s Parenting in Ottawa mental health page for information about child and or youth mental health agencies. If you have a youth in crisis, contact the Youth Services 24/7 Crisis Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 613-260-2360, if outside Ottawa toll-free 1-877-377-7775.

Students and families can also contact Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.

Also, as noted in the previous month’s newsletter you may wish to read further on what you are observing. It is always best to consult credible, evidence-based sources of information. Here are a few websites to consider: 

●     https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/mentalhealth

●     https://www.anxietycanada.com/

●     https://smho-smso.ca/parents-and-families/ 

If your child does not seem to be improving and you are still concerned about their well-being, it may be time to reach out for additional support. You can contact your school Principal to learn about school mental health services such as Counselling Connect or contact School Mental Health Ontario for free mental health services in our community. School Mental Health Ontario also has many great resources for students, parents and families.

Wishing you all a safe and gentle return at establishing healthy school routines in your homes in this new year. 

Dr. Richard Bolduc, C.Psych.

OCSB Mental Health Lead

Special Education & Student Services Department


St. Brother And School

1923 Elmridge Drive

Gloucester, ON  K1J 8G7

Phone: 613-741-0100
Email: Brother.Andre@ocsb.ca
Website: ban.ocsb.ca