The Special Education Services department at HCDSB is pleased to be hosting a series of parent information sessions to help families adjust and respond to the new norms faced during a global pandemic and how to cope with the mental health and well-being of their children in times of uncertainty and change.

For the health and safety of our HCDSB community, all sessions will be offered virtually, and will be recorded live and available on the Board’s YouTube channel. A link to each live session below will be posted on the Board’s homepage the day of the scheduled presentation, and available on HCDSB’s YouTube channel for later viewing.

Mental Health & Well-being During COVID- 19

Presented by: Jacqueline Davis, MSW, RSW and Patricia Webber-Callaghan, MSW, RS

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals, families and children in many different ways. For some, it has had an effect on mental health and well-being; for others, it has increased feelings of loss and isolation; or it may have interrupted routines and forced families to make changes that they may have felt unprepared for.

In this session, using resources from School Mental Health Ontario, we will ask the following questions:

How do we know when our children are experiencing a mental health problem?
What can I do to help them?
How do I talk to my child about mental health?
Where can I go for help?

Student Mental Health & Anxiety 

Presented by: Sarah Buist, MSW, RSW and Rhonda Crawford, MSW, RSW

This session will discuss anxiety as a common emotion for school-aged children. The focus will be on how anxiety can manifest itself at school and at home, and how early indicators of anxiety can be opportunities to teach coping strategies in children. This session may be recommended for you if you are considering the following:

Are you worried your child may be feeling anxious?
Are you interested in learning more about anxiety, what it looks like, and ways to support your child? 

Parenting During The Pandemic: Fostering Hope, Resilience & Positive Mental Health & Well-Being

Presented by: Rhonda Crawford, MSW, RSW and Patricia Webber-Callaghan, MSW, RSW

COVID-19 has presented many challenges to parenting and has significantly impacted the mental health and well being of our children.

This session will reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on children and how we can foster grit and perseverance in these times of uncertainty and change. Our goal is to infuse a message of hope that our children can bounce back when faced with adversity.

Families Matter – Raising a Resilient Child

Presented by: Rosanna Bird, ICYC and Paola Giordani-Murray, ICY

When children are resilient, they are braver, more curious and adaptable, and are able to overcome stress, challenges, or adversity.

Parents are the most influential people in building their children’s resilience. All families have challenges and strengths, and when parents focus on strengths and building assets, children can thrive.

In this workshop, we will discuss:
What is Resiliency, and how parents can nurture resiliency in their children?
The Importance of Routines
Family Assets – 5 Key Ingredients
Relationships as Key Components

ADHD & Sleep – Management of ADHD as a Team of Parents, Students, Medical Professionals & School

This presentation will address what we can do as a community to help children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The presentation will also address the current scientific evidence regarding sleep management for children and adolescents, particularly those who have ADHD.

Family Wellness & Positive Mental Health during COVID-19

Presented by: Sarah Buist, MSW, RSW and Jacqueline Davis, MSW, RSW

This family wellness session will continue the conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of families.

There will be conversational dialogue about the uniqueness of parenting during this past year and strategies will be shared about how to balance the reality of our new norm. Resources, helpful tips, and real life examples will be shared and discussed.

Mental Health and Secondary Students

Presented by: Michael Assiamah, RSW, Fola Brown RSW, Crystal Dasilva, CYC, and Adriana Rerecich, Chaplaincy Leader

This session will present parents with information about mental health and wellness of their teenagers, as well as strategies to support their well-being.

Resources will also be shared that parents can access should they have concerns for their child’s mental health and well-being.

Promoting Healthy Sleep Habits for Children and Youth

Presented by: Christine Kluczynski, Mental Health and Addiction Nurse, Home and Community Care Support Services and Vi Ensoy-Landicho, Mental Health and Addiction Nurse, Home and Community Care Support Services

This session focuses on providing parents and caregivers with knowledge and practical strategies towards promoting healthy sleep habits for their children. Sleep difficulties are extremely common among children and youth. The lack of structure and predictable routine arising from the pandemic may further exacerbate sleep disturbances. Irregular sleep patterns and insufficient sleep have negative implications on behaviour, motivation, emotions, memory, and learning. It is, therefore, important for young people with developing brains to maintain healthy sleep routines.

This session will address the Functions and Stages of Sleep, Consequences of Poor Sleep, Sleep Disorders and Interventions as well as Strategies for Healthy Sleep Habits.