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Blog: Friday, January 24th, 2020

Mental Health Supports in Schools

It may feel calmer walking into Abbotsford’s middle schools these days, thanks in part to the work of our middle school mental health clinicians. Now into the position’s third year, Allison Blackwell and Kai Schindel have been working alongside middle school staffs and families to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health and related issues that are common in today's children and youth.  They bring to the school district a wealth of knowledge around mental health diagnoses, community supports and services, and universal strategies for prevention and treatment of common conditions, such as anxiety. 

Working as part of the District Learning Support Services team, our middle school clinicians are striving to decrease the stigma associated with mental health and increase staff confidence when dealing with a variety of middle school challenges. Allison and Kai are supporting teachers as they build a repertoire of strategies to reinforce mindfulness and approaches to help students be calm, alert, and ready to learn.  Breathing strategies, such as ‘trapezoid breathing’ or ‘lazy 8 breathing’ can be seen in classrooms as students and staff learn to slow down the mind and body.  Social-emotional learning targets are often up on whiteboards as middle school teachers are building strong connections between SEL competencies and the Core Competencies. Allison and Kai have been embraced by their school communities, and we look forward to their continued positive impact across the district. Families seeking individual mental health support for children or youth are encouraged to attend an intake session at Child and Youth Mental Health (2828 Cruikshank St.) on Tuesdays. 

NATHAN NGIENG
Director of Instruction, Learning Support Services