Van Tech Embarks on a Comprehensive Approach to Address Social-Emotional Health Issues in the School

Vancouver Technical Secondary School has been taking a comprehensive and collaborative approach to addressing social-emotional health issues in their school. After Public Health Nurse Derek Roelofsen, school Vice Principal Leann Buteau, and the school guidance counselors noticed an increase in the number of students experiencing issues such as depression and anxiety, they knew they needed to take a more holistic approach to address the issues.

They wanted to be proactive rather than reactive in their efforts, and to take a collaborative, holistic and comprehensive approach to their efforts.

 "I was thrilled we were actually discussing the issue of mental health in our school. As Vice Principal, I hear about these issues more as a result of behavioural manifestations - that kids aren't attending school, are skipping tests or classes," said Buteau. "When we put our heads together, we thought about what the kids were telling us loud and clear: they're feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and we need to address those underlying issues."

As the project has developed, a number of collaborative partnerships between health, education, and community groups took shape. The school formed a multidisciplinary steering committee, composed of Roelofsen, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, representatives from the Community Schools Team, and the SACY Teen Engagement Program.

In addition to their own teams, Van Tech also connected with the University of British Columbia  to support their work with the development of assessment tools, research and analysis.

To move forward with their vision, the committee has been utilizing the Comprehensive School Health Framework as a foundational guide for their assessment and planning actions. The CSH approach has helped the committee to identify areas of strength, potential gaps, and opportunities for improving social-emotional wellbeing in the school

 "Ultimately, our goal is to have a very healthy school community, and school connectedness will be one of the measures of that goal," says Buteau. 

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