The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) has created a Professional Advisory for its members on Supporting Students' Mental Health. The purpose is "to help OCTs enhance their professional knowledge and practice with respect to understanding how to support students' mental health."
Greater Essex County District School Board Student Trustee Iman Berry (pictured, left at far left) and Superintendent of Education Sharon Pyke (pictured, left at far right) participated in a panel at the local release of the advisory. Berry told the gathering, "Students need to know that teachers are open and willing to talk to them about mental health." She added that parents have to be informed and that everyone needs to encourage conversations about mental health.
The professional advisory lays out the teachers' roles, their responsibilities and advice to support students. It was described as a tool teachers can use which gives them permission to be advocates for students. However, it is not recommended that teachers diagnose mental illness, rather they should consult with professionals and use the professional supports already in place in the school system. Berry said, "Equipping teachers with the information to help is essential."
The GECDSB currently has on its website a page of resources for students, parents/guardians and staff that are available in the community.