Adopting a mental fitness approach in New Brunswick schools
The 2009-2010 New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey draws an alarming portrait of the student body’s mental health. According to the survey, only 17% of students have a high level of mental fitness (15% of boys and 19% of girls). These rates clearly indicate a need to further develop approaches that aim to improve the mental fitness of youth in our schools.
In 2009, the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development joined forces to face this challenge. The province’s North Western school district (District 3) demonstrated great interest in collaborating on an initiative that could improve the mental fitness of students in their schools. This marked the start of a long term relationship between wellness (including mental fitness and resilience), and education!
When all the partners sat down to discuss the action plan, it seemed perfectly natural to address the concept of mental fitness, as it is defined in the Wellness Strategy, by adopting an approach targeting the three psychological needs of competency, autonomy and relatedness. Moreover, the Personal and Social Development Program offered in their schools matched the wellness and mental fitness vision, and would serve as a point of entry for the initiative.
The team in charge of the initiative developed workshops and a practice guideline that met the following objectives:
- raise awareness and empower schools with regards to mental fitness and resilience;
- establish a link between the Personal and Social Development Program, mental fitness and resilience;
- provide a complementary mental fitness and resilience resource to all study programs;
- propose strategies that meet student mental fitness needs as per the Self-Determination Theory.
After completing research for the development of the guideline and workshops, the work group wondered whom this approach was geared to:
- principals and vice-principals?
- administrative staff?
- resource personnel?
- non-teaching personnel?
- all of the above?
Answers will be provided in my next blog.
“Motivated teachers have motivated students.”
“I integrate mental fitness and resilience concepts in my code of conduct and discipline, in my daily contact with students as well as in planning interventions and teaching methods. This approach suits my teaching style and educational philosophy.” (traduction)
Reference : Sondage sur le mieux-être des élèves du Nouveau-Brunswick – http://www.gnb.ca/0131/pdf/w/Mental_Fitness_FR2010.pdf