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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Children's Mental Health
Awareness Week

May 4-10, 2020

Each year, Ontarians mark the first full week of May as Children's Mental Health Week. This important week is about: 

  • Increasing awareness of the signs of child and youth mental health problems 
  • Decreasing stigma 
  • Understanding that help is available and it works! 

1 in 5 Canadian children and youth has a mental health problem - That's about 500,000 kids in Ontario. The good news is that 5 out of 5 children have MENTAL HEALTH and social connectedness is an essential part of being well and staying healthy. 

This year, the Toronto Catholic District School Board has identified 5 themes for the 5 weekdays between May 4 to 8:
  • Mindful Monday
  • Take a Break Tuesday
  • Wellness Wednesday
  • Thankful Thursday
  • Friendly Friday

Share your Mental Health & Wellness Activities!

We encourage you to try some of the suggested activities with your family and share your pictures and thoughts on Twitter: #TCDSBMHW2020!​

Mindful Monday

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a practice where you use the five senses to engage physically and non-judgmentally with the world around you. When you do a task with mindful awareness, you do it with 100% of your energy and attention. 
Try these easy 5-minute activities - alone or with family!
"Just One Breath" Breathing Activity 
  • Find a relaxing place where you won't be disturbed. 
  • Sit comfortably. 
  • Set a timer for one minute, or a longer period if you'd like. 
  • Start breathing deeply in and out. Notice how the breath feels as it moves in and out of your body. Notice how the air feels on your skin. Pay attention to any sensations that you notice or any sounds that you hear.
  • Take another slow deep breath and see if you can imagine how the breath moves down into the lungs and then back up again. Thank your body and breath for giving you life and keeping you healthy.
  • Take one more deep breath and hold the breath for a moment - then release it.
  • If thoughts become intrusive, try and imagine your thoughts immersed in a white, puffy cloud and push the thought cloud out of your awareness.
Watch this Mindfulness video online.  
Prayer is a great way to meditate and reflect upon our relationship with God. Check out the TCDSB parent guide for Christian Meditation.

Take a Break Tuesday

We all like to feel that we accomplish tasks during the day for both us and our children. However, there is a danger in filling the day with many “to do’s”. If we don’t intentionally and deliberately take a “break”, we will end up loosing time aimlessly, without feeling like we took a real “break”. Here are some different ways to take a break and enjoy a few minutes for yourself each day: 
  • Check out this 50 ways to take a break Poster! Including listening to music, reading a book or a poem, taking a bath, going for a walk, and more.
  • Tuesday May 5 from 2 - 3:30 p.m.: In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Suitcase Theatre is live streaming a pre-recorded performance of Stronger Together: Opening Doors to Mental Health, a great show for children from Kindergarten to Grade 5. Come join party!
  • Kids story time! Children of all ages love to have stories read to them. Torontonians who do not have a Toronto Public Library card can now access a collection of ebooks and audiobooks, with the new Instant Digital Card. New customers can enjoy this access until September 1, 2020.
  • Model and practice self-care in all 5 areas of well-being: physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual. For more info on children and their self-care, check out this Self-Care Resource.

Wellness Wednesday

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (ages 5-17 years) are the first evidence-based guidelines to address the whole day.
Ensuring we all get sufficient sleep, trade indoor time for outdoor time, and replace sedentary behaviours and light physical activity with additional moderate to vigorous physical activity can provide great health benefits.

Thankful Thursday

Studies show that when we practice gratitude, we have higher levels of optimism and decreased negative feelings. Role modeling gratitude with our children will help us reap the benefits of thinking more positively. Additionally, children who regularly express gratitude appreciate close relationships and feel better about life and school.  Try these exercises!
  • Alphabet Gratitude: Write out each letter of the alphabet and try to come up with at least one item they are grateful for under each letter. For example: A might be “air” and B might be “bed".
  • Gratitude Journal: Take five minutes to write down 3 things we are grateful for and do this for 21 days to see a positive change in your mood. Try to be specific. For example: Instead of writing, “I’m thankful for my friends” try, “I’m thankful that he/she played a virtual card game with me, we had fun, just like before”.  
  • Create a Family Gratitude Jar - A gratitude jar can be a great way to encourage your children (and you!) to consider what you're thankful for on a daily basis. Have the family take turns sharing their ideas at the dinner table. 
  • Group Prayer: Every Thursday at 4pm, the TCDSB hosts a community prayer together. Come join us! 
  • Family Meditation: Here is a great link to a Gratitude Meditation you can watch with the family. 

Friendly Friday 

Connections promote wellness. Human connection is essential for good health, especially when life presents situations that can cause increased anxiety. The good news is physical distancing doesn't mean being alone. 
Here are some ways to stay engaged and connected with others to stay positive and healthy:
  1. Connect with Conversations: During physical distancing technology can help build community and prevent feelings of loneliness.  Encourage your child  to connect “face to face” virtually or by phone with friends and loved ones regularly. Texting one another does not replace the instant social connection of talking to one another in real time. 

  2. Attend a Virtual Class or Event: You and your child can take advantage of the many (mostly free!) online activities, for example cooking, yoga, and gym classes; and tours of zoos and museums. 

  3. Connect with Family:
  • Eat dinner together without the distraction of phones or television.
  • Play board games and puzzles together.
  • Teach and practice life skills such as cooking, doing laundry, sewing on a button.
  • Plant a garden, even if it’s just one plant in the window.
    4. Decorate Your Neighborhood:
  • Create driveway art with sidewalk chalk and have a neighborhood "gallery walk."
  • Everyone in the family can either write down a word of hope/positive message or contribute a drawing and tape it to the window so others can see. 

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