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What counselling services can students get?
Ontario schools approach students’ overall well-being, both physical and mental; not just academic. It includes promoting student safety, physical activity, positive social interaction, preventative health measures such as immunization and age-appropriate health education.
Good mental health is an important part of a student’s ability to learn and thrive in all areas of their life. In the Ontario school system, it is appropriate and expected that parents and teachers talk about things that come up during the school year both academically and personally; think of yourself as part of the success support team for your child.
What are signs my child may need mental health support?
If you have recently just moved to Ontario, the adjustment to a new home, new friends, new school system, new everything can be very overwhelming for your child.
Every child will have occasional challenges in school, this is normal. But if you notice that issues become frequent, it can also be related to mental health. Signs of mental health struggles can look like:
- Avoiding friends and family
- Sudden changes in mood, behaviour or personality
- Changes in eating habits & sudden weight changes
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Frequent complaints of head or stomach pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in academic performance
- Avoiding or refusing to go to school
All schools in Ontario have access to a public health nurse as part of their educational resources. Nurses are assigned to a set number of schools in their area, they are available to answer questions, provide information and referrals for school staff, students and parents on a variety of health-related topics.
If you have concerns about your child’s health, it is important that you speak to your child’s health care provider. If you don’t yet have a family doctor you can ask to speak with the school nurse or another member of the wellness team. You can also talk to a teacher or the administration office to connect with the mental health professional at your school.
What are school counselling services?
Every Ontario school has access to a counsellor who can provide information and advice to you and your child. According, to the Ontario School Counsellors’ Association, the mission of a school counsellor, also called a guidance counsellor, is to support students’ well-being and growth in three areas:
- personal development
- interpersonal development
- career development
There are different situations that a counsellor can be helpful for non-academic issues in school. Guidance counsellors can:
- Provide one-on-one counselling to students for mental health
- Collaborate with teachers, professionals, paraprofessionals (e.g. social workers, psychologists, child and youth workers)
- Intervene or mediate with behaviour-related challenges (e.g. classroom disruptions, bullying)
In high school, guidance counsellors are often available to help your child with choosing courses, career paths and opportunities after graduation. Ask your child’s school if they have any suggestions to help with the transition; your school may even have a settlement worker that you can talk to.
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January 26, 2023