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News release: February 29, 2024

Peel’s School Health Program prioritizes mental health through partnerships

Brampton, ON. (February 29, 2024) – At Regional Council on February 22, a report was presented on Peel Public Health’s (PPH) School Health Program (SHP). The report focuses on steps that have been taken to support the mental health needs of Peel students.

Every two years, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) collects and analyzes data on the health of students in Grades 7 to 12. Mental health indicators have worsened over time and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue. Results from the 2021 study, shown below, and anecdotal evidence through PPH’s partnership with school boards, highlight the need for greater attention on the issue.

Per Cent of Students Reporting

Year Fair/poor self-rated mental health Fair/poor ability to cope with difficult problems Unmet need for mental health support (past year)
2019 27% 23% 35%
2021 38% 34% 42%

Data source: Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 2021, CAMH.

Results from the most recent CAMH study, which was conducted in 2023, are expected in April of this year. With the trend expected to continue, PPH has collaborated with four school boards in Peel (PDSB, DPCDB, Csc MonAvenir, Cs Viamonde) to create healthy school environments for students which prioritizes actions to address worsening mental health among Ontario youth.

The SHP collaborates with schools to welcome and include students, understand their needs, build knowledge of mental health, promote mentally healthy habits, and partner with the school community to create a supportive environment. Other community agencies provide mental health assessment and treatment services as part of the system of care. Current mental health programming at the school level includes:

Youth Empowering Students For Mental Health (YES4MH)

The YES4MH program, offered to students in middle and secondary schools, is a youth engagement intervention that involves students in meaningful activities and experiences to become leaders in mental health promotion in their school community. Public Health Nurses (PHNs) provide training in mental health, stigma reduction and leadership to youth-led mental wellbeing committees. PHNs also bring awareness to the mental health resources available in the community.

Playground Activity Leaders in Schools (PALS)

The PALS program encourages all students to engage in recess activities, regardless of their gender, size, or ability. PHNs provide leadership, conflict resolution, and communication training to students in grades 4-6, equipping them to lead younger peers in playground games during recess. Peel Public Health offers participating schools playground equipment (e.g., skipping ropes, balls), and materials (e.g., training and games handbooks) to support program implementation.

Other programs

Mental health promotion is addressed indirectly through protective factors such as physical activity and healthy eating. In these areas, the SHP supports Peel schools by:

In 2018, Peel Public Health signed a formal partnership declaration with the Peel District and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Boards to work together to create healthy schools that improve the wellbeing of children and youth in Peel. Future efforts will be made to renew and strengthen the declaration.

Media contact

Jason Ritchie
Communications Specialist
Region of Peel

About Peel Region

In 2024, Peel Region marks its 50th anniversary. Peel Region works with residents and partners to create a healthy, safe, and connected Community for Life for approximately 1.5 million people and over 200,000 businesses in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Peel's services touch the lives of residents every day. For more information explore and follow us on X @regionofpeel and Instagram

On December 13, 2023, the Ontario government announced that Peel Region will not be dissolved, and that Bill 112 legislation will be updated to reflect service delivery in Peel. Services for residents and businesses will continue without interruption. For updates and more information, visit Peel's transition page.