Children and youth currently without serious problem behaviour or mental health issues represent approximately 80% of our population. Prevention includes creating a positive and supportive school climate; building a school environment and culture that enhances and supports resiliency for all children and youth, and where primary prevention and early identification of mental health issues takes place.
One of the best investments we can make as a society is to enhance the strengths of our children and youth so as to increase their prospects for positive development, while reducing the risk of later problems. Universal or school-wide interventions can be very effective in creating positive school environments. This is a proactive approach that can replace the need to develop individual interventions for multiple students who engage in similar inappropriate behaviours. For example, by teaching all children the correct and safe way to walk through the halls of the school, touching other children and the escalation into aggressive behaviour and fighting can be greatly reduced.
Similarly, school-wide strategies can be employed to foster all children and youth’s sense of connectedness and attachment to the adults and peers within their school environment, and increasing their skills for setting goals, solving problems, achieving self discipline, character development, and responsibility. Proactive support for the development of emotional and social competency can also enhance resiliency in the face of the inevitable ups and downs of growing up.
Information about prevention programming in the community can be accessed through this link: Search for Services.
The following information sheets may be useful in understanding the important role of prevention and universal school-based interventions:
Fostering Mental Health
Fostering Optimism and Strengths
Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports