Positive Mental Health Approaches

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					   Mental health programs and services within
    the school, health and community settings
    have often focused on addressing concerns
    related to the psychological well-being of
    children and youth through

    ◦ The identification/screening of risk-need factors

    ◦ The design and delivery of intervention and support
   Traditional approaches have emphasized:
    ◦ the problems or challenges associated with
      existing or emerging mental health-related
    ◦ the approaches or interventions needed to
      remediate or address areas of risk and need

   Recent better practice research across health and
    educational domains assert the importance of
    including a positive view of mental health
   Involves the recognition that a student’s state
    of psychological well-being is:
    ◦ not only influenced by the absence of problems and
      risk-need concerns
    ◦ but also impacted by the existence of positive
      factors present within individuals and their social
      settings that contribute to positive growth and
   The emergence of positive mental health perspectives
    has shifted the focus of educators and health
    professionals from a preoccupation with repairing
    weakness to enhancement of positive qualities
    (McDougal & Riley-Tillman, 2004, p. 101).
   Such qualities or factors may include:
    ◦ Positive individual traits
    ◦ Positive personal experiences and relationships
    ◦ Initiatives, programs and environments that assist in:
       Enhancing quality of life
       Preventing or reducing the risk of developing mental
        health-related concerns
   Children and youth have inner strengths and
    gifts that support their capacity to initiate,
    direct, and sustain positive life directions
    (Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004; Losier and Morrison, 2007)

   Child and youth engagement and
    empowerment are critical considerations for
    facilitating positive development or change
    (CSPH, 2002; Deci & Ryan, 2007)
   Social contexts and networks provide important
    resources and influences that have the capacity to
    contribute to and enhance psychological well-being
    (Losier & Morrison, 2007; Sheridan, Warnes, Cowan, Schemm &
    Clarke, 2004)

   Children’s and youths’ relationships with adults
    and peers that contribute to psychological well-
    being are characterized by interactions that convey
    genuineness, empathy, unconditional caring and
    affirmation (Brendtro, 2003)
   Schools provide:
    ◦ Critical contexts for shaping children’s self-esteem, self-
      efficacy and sense of control over their lives
    ◦ Key opportunities for promoting the delivery of activities
      and comprehensive initiatives related to positive mental
   As children move into their early and later teen
    years, schools may play an even greater role than
    the home context in influencing youth, given the
    powerful influence that teacher support and peer
    networks have within the educational settings
   A World Health Organization (WHO)
    systematic review found:
    ◦ School-based programs “are particularly effective if
      developed and implemented using approaches
      common to the health promoting schools
      approach” (Cushman, 2008, p. 232).
   In the Canadian context, the approach for
    health promoting schools is known as
    comprehensive school health .
   Evidence of effectiveness has been noted for
    school-based initiatives that adopt a whole-
    school approach including major
    characteristics associated with the health-
    promoting schools model, including:
    ◦ Student skill development
    ◦ Changes in the school environment
    ◦ Participation of parents and members of the local
   The comprehensive school health
    framework involves a whole school
    approach that includes four inter-
    related pillars that provide the
    foundation for this model. They
    ◦   Social and Physical Environment
    ◦   Teaching and Learning
    ◦   Healthy School Policy
    ◦   Partnerships and Services (JCSH, 2009)
1.   Social and Physical Environment refers to the
     quality of the relationships among staff and
     students in the school; the emotional well-being
     of students; and the buildings, grounds, play
     spaces and equipment in and surrounding the

2.   Teaching and Learning includes the resources,
     activities and provincial/territorial curricula where
     students gain age-appropriate knowledge and
     experiences, helping to build the skills to improve
     their health and wellbeing.
3.   Partnerships and Services: When connections are
     established between a school, its students,
     families, and surrounding community
     organizations, supportive working relationships
     are formed, enabling health, education and other
     sectors to work together to advance school
4.   Healthy School Practices and Policies are the
     management practices, decision-making
     processes, rules, procedures and policies at all
     levels that promote health and wellbeing, and
     shape a respectful, welcoming and caring school
   The document, Schools as a Setting for
    Promoting Positive Mental Health: Better
    Practices and Perspectives, provides an
    overview of better practices based on the four
    pillars of comprehensive school health.

   Social-emotional learning
   Positive youth development
   Resiliency
   Protective factors
   Diversity
   Acceptance and understanding of student mental
    health needs
   Connectedness
   Strength-based perspectives
   Self-efficacy
   Mental fitness
   Mental fitness is a state of psychological well-being
    derived from our thoughts and emotions, and is
    based on our need to belong (relatedness), need to
    be recognized for our strengths and positive
    qualities (competence), and the freedom to make
    choices (autonomy) (Deci and Ryan, 2007).
   When your needs for respect, inclusion and
    recognition are met, the conditions are right for
    you to be at your best.
   We all have a role to play in fostering Mental
    Fitness in self and others.
         Relatedness                    Your Thoughts and
Refers to our need for connection   I belong or am part of my school
to and closeness with family,       and community.
peers, and other significant

Fulfillment of this need is met     I feel included, encouraged, and
through interaction with others,    supported by my peers.
our membership in groups, and
the support and encouragement
we receive from others.
          Autonomy                       Your Thoughts and
Refers to our need for recognizing   I have strengths and gifts that are
and using our personal gifts and     recognized by myself, my family,
strengths in achieving personal      my friends and my school.

Fulfillment of this need provides    When I use my strengths to meet
individuals with a sense of          my goals I feel a sense of worth
personal achievement and             and accomplishment.
         Competency                      Your Thoughts and
Refers to our need for personal      I am able to make decisions about
freedom to make choices or           things that are important to me,
decisions that affect our lives.     my family and friends, and my

When this need is satisfied in       I feel hopeful because my family,
conjunction with other need areas,   friends and school support me in
freedom and choice are expressed     being an active participant in
in ways in which respect is          making choices.
demonstrated for self and others.
   The Indicators of Positive Mental Health
    framework is a tool for for assessing and
    planning positive mental health promotion in

   Developed based on evidence-informed
    practices outlined in Schools as a Setting for
    Positive Psychology

   Applied and validated in BC and NB schools
    (French and English)
   Includes practices associated with the four
    pillars of Comprehensive School Health

   Employs benchmarks based on Prochaska’s
    Stages of Change theory

   Illustrates progression from awareness to
    action to embedding practices
   The Stages of Change Model (SCM) is used to show the
    process of positive change in some aspect of behaviour or
    lifestyle (reducing risk and fostering development/resilience).

   The idea behind the SCM is that behaviour change does not
    happen in one step.

   Rather, people tend to progress through different stages on
    their way to successful change.
   Pre-Awareness - not yet acknowledging that there is a need
    for change
   Awareness and Contemplation - Acknowledging that there
    is an area of concern or need for change, but not yet ready or
    sure of wanting to make a change
   Capacity Building: Initial Plans and Actions - Getting ready
    to change; thinking about or making plans; increasing
   Capacity Building: Expanded Plans and Actions -
    Implemented efforts directed at change; small step successes;
    securing support and encouragement
   Sustained and Embedded Practice - Persisting with positive
   The framework is to be used as a self-assessment of
   Indicators are organized according to the four pillars of
    comprehensive school health and serve to probe the
    overall school environment for areas that are in need of
   A school’s performance in each indicator of PMH is
    rated according to the five benchmarks along a
    continuum of change, including:
    ◦   Pre-awareness
    ◦   Awareness and Contemplation
    ◦   Initial Plans and Actions
    ◦   Expanded Plans and Actions
    ◦   Sustained and Embedded Practices

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