There is no magic formula for creating a healthy school community. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Dr. Dan Reist of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Abuse Research writes about the comprehensive school health approach that seeks to nurture a variety of protective factors that help build resilient individuals who are able to bounce back from adversity. Learn about their resources for helping schools at www.helpingschools.ca.

In the Promising Practice Series, Dr. Reist mentions that comprehensive school health programs do not focus simply on “fixing” students but aim to change the school environment and actively engage students in the learning process. The structures, policies, procedures and staff are encouraged by the whole-school approach to operate in a healthy way and thereby both model and promote “health.” There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

“A Quick Summary of Current Evidence” provides valuable information that suggests combined strategies produce better results. Research supports the need for school communities to focus on changing the culture of the school to encourage greater school attachment and involvement. A large US study, replicated in other countries, found that when students feel connected to their school community and to caring adults within it, risk behaviours are significantly reduced.

Positive mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.  It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual wellbeing that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006)