2020-21 Grants for Student Needs: Children and Youth Mental Health

OPSBA continues to support the need for a Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy and was pleased to see this referenced in Bill 116, Foundations for Promoting and Protecting Mental Health and Addictions Services Act, 2019. There needs to be a continued focus on maintaining and expanding the resources and supports to children and youth and their families. Early investments in school-based mental health and addictions will yield long-term benefits for the health care system and the wellness of students and future generations.

OPSBA recommends:

  • The Ministry maintain the increased level of School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) infrastructure to support the continued development of evidence-based resources and to support school boards and their mental health leads in implementing effective strategies related to the full continuum of services that includes mental health literacy, promotion of positive social-emotional development, prevention of mental health problems, intervention services and clear pathways to care. The recent three-year funding allocation for SMHO is very much appreciated for continuity and planning purposes. We continue to recommend that sustainable funding for this be enveloped and rolled into the GSN. This will allow for better long-term, incremental planning and sustainable impact to school-based mental health support and services. The SMHO infrastructure has evolved into a nationally and provincially recognized, evidence based approach that should be supported as a permanent support model for school based mental health K-12 in Ontario school boards.
  • Providing an increase in the number of school-based mental health workers and community supports for sufficient pathways to care across the province, especially in northern and remote areas.
  • Continued funding to effectively implement Mental Health Literacy supports for Kindergarten to Grade 12, incorporating ongoing training for all staff working directly with children and youth in schools.
  • Ensuring that the government's comprehensive strategy, referenced in Bill 116, provides for the expansion of evidence-based mental health and well-being supports, services and programs to create a sustainable funding model for children and youth mental health in Ontario.
  • Providing funding support for school-wide promotion of positive social and emotional development to strengthen mental health literacy among children and youth themselves.
  • Continued support and expansion of Youth Wellness Hubs in all communities in the province.