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Partnering to Better Support Students

​​Recognizing the significant impact of mental health on an individual’s overall wellbeing and quality of life, CCAC mental health and addictions nurses (MHANs) are helping students who struggle with these challenges not only to attend, but to thrive in school. “As a CCAC, we are committed to providing individualized care,” notes Donna Sherman, Manager of Patient Care Services. “That’s incredibly important with our students, whose mental health needs cannot be viewed in isolation from the context of their lives. If their challenges are impacting their success at school, we can work with their school and community to support them.” Students supported through the MHAN program face a variety of mental health challenges, ranging from anxiety and self-harming behaviours to substance use, bipolar disorder and depression. For many, even the thought of attending school is more than they can bear.

“[Our mental health and addictions nurse] has created a miracle. My son has taken charge of his illness, is taking his pills, seeing his doctor, going to school, and attending clinic. Her caring and guidance we could not do without.” 

-Parent

We work closely with students, families, school boards, physicians, local hospitals, mental health agencies and other partners to support not only the student’s return to school, but also the development of a coordinated care plan that will help keep them there,” Donna says. For some students, the team considers options outside of traditional school day, such as specialized programs; in others, MHANs meet with teachers to answer questions about diagnoses or explain how the medications a student is taking might impact their behaviour in class. And when school breaks for the summer, the MHAN team continues to support these vulnerable young people through the warmer months. “Ultimately,” Donna notes, “the program is about helping the system adapt to students as much as it’s about helping students adapt to the system.”

“This program is very kinetic, very flexible and resilient to emerging needs in our Board.” 

-Glenn Carley, Chief Social Worker, Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board


“Partnership with the MHAN program has helped us formalize a process to respond to and support the safe transition of our students from hospital to school.” 

-Archie Kwan, Senior Psychologist, Peel District School Board