Hamilton public school board offers student mental health summer programs


Published July 9, 2021 at 1:50 am


School-aged children in Ontario have spent more days out of school than their counterparts nationwide since the start of COVID-19 pandemic — and inactivity can often create mental health challenges.

Researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children released initial findings Thursday indicating that the majority of children and teenagers saw their mental health decline during the pandemic’s second wave. The early data shows that more than half of 758 kids aged eight to 12 reported significant symptoms of depression from February to March.

Here in Hamilton, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) noted this week that it is offering a range of programs to support students’ emotional wellness during summer vacation. The board is offering support in the following areas:

  • Mental health, such as anxiety or low mood;
  • School avoidance and non-attendance;
  • Personal or social stressors, such as adverse childhood experiences, peer relationship, stress, substance use
  • Family stressors that impact on the student’s functioning at school
  • Experiencing systemic oppression and discrimination;
  • Crisis, such as imminent risk of harm to self or others.
  • The public board is also hosting a Teen Activation Group, where the goals are to increase activity levels, reduce depressive symptoms and to improve mood by having the student take part in positive and rewarding activities. There is also a Coping with COVID-19 group that focuses on children and youth (grades 6-12) who are feeling anxious about COVID-19 to the point that their daily functioning has been negatively impacted.

    The board also offers a cognitive-based therapy (CBT) support group, as well as a social and support group for transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender questioning children and youth.

    More information is available at hwdsb.on.ca/blog/supporting-student-well-being-this-summer.

    With files from The Canadian Press.

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