The start of the pandemic in the North has been described by some as “everything going silent”. Small communities scattered across a large geographical area suddenly disconnected. In the rural region of the Thunder Bay District, both educators and mental health providers immediately understood that relationships and connection would be critical to the well-being of children, youth, and families through the experience of COVID-19.
- Three school boards and five community based mental health organizations connected and quickly formed a Collective.
- Goals of consistent and clear messaging focused on connection, mental health and availability of services & supports for children, youth and families.
- The strengths of this group included high participation and engagement, action focused meetings, and strong communication with their communities.
- Smaller, nimble task teams were created to take on work.
- The group rapidly collaborated on a virtual mental health week with different organizations taking on different days. The Collective also produced tip sheets on Substance Use Tip and Healthy Relationships & Family Wellness.
- Local schools made healthy foods available to families within the District.
- The groups collaboration has brought a strong and united voice to the District including streamlining resources and supports available that are relevant to our communities and contexts.
- As a result of this collaboration, there are also plans for shared professional learning across disciplines. (I.e., upcoming professional development days for school boards). There is potential for further growth in various areas and capacities.
- School boards and mental health providers recognized need to collaborate in meaningful work to strengthen district communities.
- Group was brought together via online platform.
- Started with information sharing to identify needs and community trends.
- Continue to work together for re-entry/re-opening planning.
- Moved to actions supporting connection, consistent messaging and family needs.
For more information on Rural Education and Mental Health Collective – District of Thunder Bay, please, contact:
- Tracy Bryson firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brandy Brake-Weldon BrandyBrakeWeldon@dilico.com