Mental Health and Well-Being Snapshot: January 2022
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Hope and Optimism for Well-being
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A focus on what's going right to start the year

With a delayed start to schools, a straining healthcare system, and ominous warnings in the headlines, you’d be excused for feeling some disheartened déjà vu this January. You may also be feeling more than a little fatigue (what wave is this again?), and for some of us, this may be leading to mental distress or exacerbating mental health problems or disorders. And all of that is leaving aside the impact of the short, dark days of mid-winter, and the sometimes jarring effect of the return back from the holidays. So, for January we wanted to focus back in on the positives - what is working, what are we thankful for, and how are we working together to take care of one another - because, despite the headlines, there are positives, and reminding ourselves of that is at least one action we can take that's within our control.

We can control a lot of what matters (and we can let go of the rest)

Sometimes stress, anger, disappointment, and sadness are the result of our own performance or response to a challenge not matching up with our expectations. It’s important then, when faced with a challenge as large as a global pandemic, to be honest with ourselves about the limits of what we can control.

For each of us, there are reasonable steps we can take every day to ensure we are minimizing risk, but there are also variables outside of any one person’s control that we need to accept. Wearing a mask and social distancing, getting enough sleep, and being kind to those around us are all things we have control over. A global pandemic, a pop-quiz in chemistry class, or another person's reaction are all things we have no control over. Recognizing the limits of our own control can be scary, but it can also be liberating - no longer are we burdened by perceived responsibilities that we actually have no control over, or stresses that will do nothing to prevent the stressful circumstance.

Short Videos about Control:
For adults or older youth looking to get some perspective and take control over stresses related to the pandemic, this short video based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gives a good introduction to accepting limits of control and taking action: FACE COVID

And for older elementary or middle-school students, Counselor Keri offers this helpful video: Can I control that Thing I'm Worrying About?


When you think back on what you read, watched, or heard about in the news of the past year, do you think of hopeful stories such as powerful nations agreeing that a nuclear war should never be fought, China eliminating Malaria, or the flight of the first non-petroleum fueled passenger airliner? … Me neither. And one reason we might have missed those stories is that we have been “doomscrolling” - spending too much time scrolling through content that is worrying or distressing. And there’s an explanation for that.

Our brain’s reward system responds positively to information, and our brains are wired to pay more attention to information that could be harmful or threatening. This makes sense, but is not always helpful in the age of immediate and infinite information access. So, if you're like me and struggle to put limits on screen time, why not make an effort to inject more positivity into your media consumption in 2022? Sites like Positive News or Good News Network can be helpful for this purpose, and may make a difference in how you feel when you stop scrolling.

The power of gratitude

Increasing positive emotions such as gratitude has been shown to have a strong connection with positive mental health and coping with adversity. For some of us, practicing gratitude might come naturally. For others, it may take practice to get into a daily habit. has produced a Covid-19 Youth Mental Resource Hub that focuses on building skills and emotional states, including a package of resources focused on gratitude strategies. A couple of examples of the resources on there are copied below as images.

The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Canada (CAMH) has also made a resource for youth called Cup of Gratitude. This could be an excellent individual exercise or could be adapted for a group or classroom setting.
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Silver Linings of Changing Service Models - Foundry Virtual

Access to appropriate care is vital to maintain positive mental health and well-being at any time. Many families had concerns about long waitlists and unclear pathways through our mental health system before the pandemic began, and service restrictions and changes during the pandemic seemed cause for further alarm. However, some agencies have adapted quickly and made permanent changes to their service models which will increase accessibility for youth and families.

A great example of this is Foundry’s virtual services. Foundry is a province-wide network of integrated health and social service centres for young people ages 12-24. Foundry centres provide a one-stop-shop for young people to access mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports. The recently launched Foundry Virtual and Foundry App, take that one-stop model online, including same-day drop-in appointments.

The graphics below show the impact of this service, which includes drop-in counselling, peer support, and workshops/groups. The data for these graphics was taken from a year since the service was launched, and the rapid growth and positive feedback of youth users speaks to the need that this service is addressing across BC. 
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The data is in: Make time for fun!

We highlighted this bit of research in 2021, but it’s worth revisiting at this time of year as many of us may be thinking about ways to support our own well-being or the well-being of our colleagues in the new year. When a team from McGill reviewed the research around supporting school staff well-being, they found that opportunities to vent were not always helpful, experiences that increase positive emotions such as fun and gratitude are just as (or more!) important as building skills to cope with negative emotions, and community-building activities contribute to school staff well-being.

Finding hope for children during the Pandemic

The linked article from BC Children's Hospital was written in May 2021 - in the thick of the third wave of the pandemic. While obviously much has changed since then, the advice remains pertinent for the challenges and uncertainties we're facing today:

Keep routines and structure

Have expectations, but keep them flexible

When faced with challenging behaviours or pushback - connect first, ask questions later

Acknowledge how much this pandemic has demanded of all of us, and be kind to yourself


We all already know how to take care of ourselves (but most of us are bad at making the time!)

This short video highlights a funny thing about self-care - that we all know what helps us recharge (and for each of us it is going to be different), but many of us are just pretty bad at fitting it into our lives. The video shows experienced, master teachers who have won awards for their teaching, struggling (at first) with that question of what they do to practice self-care. This should give us all a little confidence that whatever difficulties we face in enacting self-care in our own lives, we are in good company!

Circles of Support - there are a ton of people who can help

If we're struggling, or those around us are struggling, it can sometimes be hard to know where to turn for help. When it comes to mental health and well-being, the chances are good that you already have a bunch of people around you who can be supportive. It can be helpful to think of these as layers of support, moving from the centre outward - they are all useful, but all also have different supportive roles to play.

Let's start with you. Although sometimes it feels like we need to seek out expert help (and yes, sometimes we do), very often there are some immediate steps we can take that we know (as the expert about ourselves) will help -  maybe it's a bit of space from a person or stressor, maybe it's a calming activity, but have some trust in that expert opinion.

The next layer of the support circle are those people who are intimately linked with you - parents, close family, partners. These people know you well and are usually physically close to you as well, so they will be well-positioned to help or connect you with someone else.

Friends can also be good supports, and the fun, laughter, and shared experiences we have with friends can be powerful protective factors. But youth should understand the limits of what friends can do. In real health emergencies or mental health crises, it's important to tag an adult in. 

Our schools have a ton of supportive people in them as well. For many students, there will be a teacher, EA, or support staff member who they connect with at school. There are also school counsellors, youth and family counsellors, inclusion support teachers, and student advocates who are in the schools every day - if you're unaware of the supports available at your school, ask a teacher or administrator.

Finally, our communities have a wealth of supportive services for mental health. Child and Youth Mental Health, Beacon Community Services, Discovery Youth and Family Services, and the Saanich Peninsula Youth Clinic are just a few of the organizations that can be helpful. Check out the resources listed on our Mental Wellness Hub to learn about these organizations and more.

Additional Resources

Saanich Elementary Counsellors' Resource Collection

SD63 Elementary Counsellors Mara and Shannon have put together an excellent Elementary-focused hub of content using Padlet, with new themes each week! 

"As SD63 district elementary counsellors we are here to support our Saanich learning community through the challenges of our COVD learning situation. Each week we will post new links to support our community families. Our goal is not to overwhelm you with more on your plate but to help you manage the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that we are all experiencing within our families during COVID. Working together we can get through this with strength and grace."

Check it out at the link below.

SD63's Mental Wellness Hub updated every month

This site compiles both local and online mental health and wellness resources for families and educators, and is updated monthly with new resources.
SD63's Mental Wellness Hub