May 29th, 2019

// #HearNowON seeks Ontario secondary student input on school mental health

#HearNowON seeks Ontario secondary student input on school mental health

Online survey, forums part of "ground-breaking" initiative by School Mental Health Ontario to hear student voice

HAMILTON, ON, May 28, 2019 /CNW/ - School Mental Health Ontario - Santé mentale en milieu scolaire Ontario will engage secondary students across Ontario to hear student voices, improve youth engagement in school-based mental health programming, and inform a provincial student mental health leadership strategy.  Through an online survey, and in-person forums, English and French students will have a voice in the development of mental health awareness and wellness promotion efforts in Ontario's publicly-funded schools.   

Notes Dr. Kathy Short, Executive Director of School Mental Health Ontario, "Schools are an excellent place to promote student mental health, to build knowledge about social-emotional skills, and to identify and support students early who may struggle with a mental health problem.  Young people have already let  us know that they have something to say about how this happens in schools.  That's why #HearNowON is ground-breaking — we will learn first-hand what secondary school students want to know about mental health, how they prefer to learn this information, and how they want to be engaged in mental health leadership. All of that can do so much to help us, and all Ontario school districts, to better promote the mental health of students."

The work of #HearNowON will be conducted with Wisdom2Action and the initiative protocols have been approved by the Dalhousie University Research Ethics Board so that findings can be summarized and shared widely.

The project is supported by the Ontario Student Trustees' Association (OSTA-AECO). Says Taylor Dallin, Operations Coordinator, OSTA-AECO, "Students want to learn more about mental health and mental illness.  They want to know how to cope with stress, and how to recognize when things are starting to get off track, for themselves or their friends.  They want to know how to help, and they want to get involved.  #HearNowON is so important—we get to make a difference in this work. We really encourage every Ontario secondary student to make their voice heard".

Highlights Short, "While there are many products, speakers, and resources designed to support mental health awareness in schools, not all of these are evidence-based, co-created with youth, and aligned with the systematic work underway within Ontario school districts. School Mental Health Ontario is committed to the use of resources that are not only evidence-based and implementation-sensitive, but also student-centred.  #HearNowON will help us  to raise up the voices of students to inform the development and/or selection of mental health awareness, promotion initiatives and resources in coming years."

Says Short, "Our partners involved in this initiative, and more broadly across Ontario, are critical to the success of #HearNowON.  School board mental health leadership teams, child and youth mental health organizations, and other education and health sector stakeholders understand the importance of supporting good mental health at school. They know the need for authentic youth voice to inform and complement existing evidence-based mental health promotion efforts."

#HearNowON includes an online survey and in-person forums. To find out more, visit :

#HearNowON Online Survey
The online survey launches on June 3rd and will remain open until July 12th. The survey will be focused on student mental health knowledge needs and preferences. The survey can be accessed at

#HearNowON Regional Forums
Regional forums will provide an opportunity for students to think together about ideas for promoting student mental health in Ontario schools, and how students can be engaged as leaders in school-based mental health initiatives. Forums are taking place in London, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Toronto. Mental health support will be available at all forums.

  • Thunder Bay – Saturday, June 1st
  • London – Saturday, June 1st
  • Toronto – Saturday, June 8th
  • Ottawa – Saturday, June 15th

Those interested can follow the conversation on Twitter #HearNowON @SMHO_SMSO

School Mental Health Ontario works with Ontario school districts to support student mental health.  

Wisdom2Action is a national social enterprise dedicated to youth engagement, knowledge mobilization and research

OSTA-AECO is the largest student stakeholder in Ontario education, representing approximately 2 million students in the public and Catholic schools in Ontario. The association also provides world-class professional development to student trustees across Ontario.

Note to media :
Due to the sensitivity of the topic, the regional forums are not open to media.



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