The welcoming of large numbers of Syrian refugees over the past few years is a point of national pride for most Canadians. As most of us are aware, the majority of these families experienced significant trauma prior to coming to Canada. Thousands of children in these families are now in Canadian schools, and many continue to struggle with symptoms of distress and trauma. The Centre for School Mental Health (CSMH), Western is partnering on a new initiative led by School Mental Health ASSIST to bring appropriate school-based services to these children and youth. STRONG.jpg

The STRONG program (Supporting Transition Resilience of Newcomer Groups) is a 10-week school-based intervention that was developed by experts from the Center for School Mental Health in Maryland and their colleagues at the Center for Childhood Resilience in Chicago. The program is being piloted this spring in four schools in the Peel District School Board and four in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Dr. Claire Crooks and her team are undertaking an evaluation focusing on feasibility, implementation, and preliminary student impact. We are excited to be at the forefront of this important work with our wonderful partners!

“Collaboration is key to the successful implementation of mental health and addiction strategies for school boards across the province of Ontario. We are grateful for all of the partners who have come together to support the implementation of the feasibility pilot for STRONG. The work is complex, multi-layered and at times messy. When we have many sets of eyes on the work we have a better chance of getting it right.” - Maureen Mackay, Co-ordinator of Student Well-Being, Peel District School Board

“TCDSB is thrilled to have partnered with the STRONG team in the development and pilot of such an innovative school counselling model. STRONG responds to a crucial need in supporting student newcomer mental health, and will help ensure a good start for newcomer students in Ontario.” - Patricia Marra-Stapleton, Mental Health Leader, Toronto Catholic District School Board