Helping schools

Funding bodies: BC Mental Health Society Branch, BC Ministry of Health, BC Ministry of Finance and Health Canada

Background: Helping Schools is an ongoing project aimed at assessing evidence, identifying promising practices, developing resources to support effective responses to substance use (and other potentially addictive behaviours), and providing consultation and support to educators and their partners—parents, health professionals and others in the school community.

These activities support comprehensive school health, an ecological approach that does not focus simply on "fixing" students but aims to change the school environment and actively engage students in the learning process. Rather than relying solely on a drug education program to teach children how to make healthy choices, the whole-school approach encourages the school itself—its structures, policies, procedures, staff and partners—to operate in a healthy way and thereby both model and promote “health.” Although comprehensive school health programs have components that address individual competence and resilience, they also focus on changing the culture of the school to encourage greater school attachment and involvement. Together, these factors have been shown to reduce alienation from the school and from the values of the larger society, improve academic performance and increase health and wellness.

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