Answered by Cindy Perras
Students with learning disabilities are at increased risk for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, low self-esteem and disruptive behaviours. According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, 1 in 5 of children and youth under the age of 19 in Ontario has a mental health problem. This means that almost 20% of students in a typical classroom may be dealing with a mental health problem - making it difficult for them to learn, or regulate their behaviour appropriately. These statistics have significant implications for educators who are in need of information, resources and strategies to support the mental health and well-being of students with LDs.
There are many excellent resources available to educators that will provide information on early identification and intervention, practical suggestions on accommodating and responding to students with mental health problems, and ways to proactively address stigma in the classroom. Some of the resources intended for educators include:
- The Ontario Ministry of Education has developed a resource document for educators entitled, Supporting Minds: An Educator’s Guide to Promoting Students’ Mental Health and Well-being. Part I of the guide addresses the role of educators in supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing; Part II of the guide is divided into eight sections, each focusing on a different mental health problems. Each section is structured to first provide educators the information they need to recognize mental health problems in their students and then to offer appropriate support, e.g. “What is depression?” “What do Symptoms of Depression Look Like?” and “What can Educators do?” Click here to access the Ministry's resource document, "Supporting Minds".
- The ABCs of Mental Health is a project of the Hinks-Dellcrest Centre, which provides two free, web-based resources, one for teachers and one for parents, to help answer questions about the behaviour of children and adolescents. Click here to visit the Hinks-Dellcrest ABC website and access the Teacher Resource.
- Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) represents and supports the providers of child and youth mental health treatment services throughout Ontario. The CMHO website provides numerous resources for teachers, addressing the most common mental health problems present in today’s classrooms, including anxiety and mood disorders, AD/HD, and behavioural disorders. Click here to visit the CMHO website and access teacher resources.
- Click here to visit the LD@school website and access the summary, "Learning Disabilities and Mental Health".
- Click here to visit the LD@school website and watch the video, "Lessons Learned: Personal Stories of Learning Disabilities, Resilience and Mental Health".
- Click here to visit the LD@school website and watch the video, "Supporting the Mental Health and Well-Being of Students with LDs through Integra Mindfulness Martial Arts (Part I)".
- Click here to visit the LD@school website and watch the video, "Mindfulness Teaching Practices: Implementing the Integra Mindfulness Martial Arts Program in the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (Part II)".
- Click here to visit the LD@school website and access the article, "A Primer for Teaching Students with ADHD".
Cindy Perras is the English Educational Consultant with the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, working as a member of the LD@school Team and LD@school/TA@l’école Advisory Committee. Cindy is an educator with 35 years of experience in special education, as a teacher, Consultant, Co-ordinator, and parent. Her professional qualifications include a Masters of Education degree from Brock University, a Bachelor of Education degree from the Ontario Teachers’ Education College, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Windsor, and a Specialist in Special Education; additionally, Cindy has completed the Ph.D. coursework at OISE/UT. Cindy enjoys researching and writing articles for LD@school, connecting with Ontario school district administrators and educators, and assisting with planning for the Educators’ Institute.