Comprehensive School Health
Comprehensive School Health (CSH) is an internationally recognized approach that addresses school health in a planned, integrated, and holistic way (Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health).
Schools are invited to collaborate with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) School Health Team to develop and implement an evidence-informed action plan to address the health and well-being of youth using a CSH approach.
- Teaching and learning
- Social and physical environment
- Partnerships and services
Schools can focus on one or more health topics based on their own priorities (such as nutrition, substance use (including vaping), physical activity, mental health, and more).
The 4-Step CSH Planning Process
The CSH approach uses a 4-step planning process that engages the school community to plan and implement activities to build healthy schools. Promoting student engagement and leadership opportunities throughout the process is essential.
The 4 steps of the CSH planning process include:
Step 1: Identify a Healthy School Champion and Assemble a School Committee
- Identify one key individual in the school (Healthy School Champion) for ongoing communication with the EOHU.
- Consider using existing teams or groups within the school. A school committee should include students, school staff, principal/vice-principal, parents/caregivers, and community partners.
Step 2: Identify School Community Priorities and Assets
- Determine the school’s status in relation to health topics by collecting data (using methods like surveys, interviews, focus groups, anecdotal evidence, etc.) or by using existing data (such as the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS), EOHU Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS), etc.).
Step 3: Develop a Plan and Take Action
- Develop SMART objectives that are relevant to the local environment as per the school data collected in Step 2.
- *SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound
- Consider aligning objectives with the curriculum, the school/school board’s annual plan, and/or initiatives already in place in the school.
- Aim to include actions that influence the four Healthy School Areas.
- Establish timelines and assign tasks to School Committee members.
- Communicate regularly with partners to discuss activities you are implementing and address issues and opportunities as they develop.
Step 4: Celebrate and Reflect
- Reflect on key learnings (What worked well? What were the challenges? What is the committee most proud of?).
- Assess if action plan objectives were met.
- Celebrate the contributions of committee members.
- Plan for next year: identify how the school can maintain its momentum.
The EOHU School Health Team Can Help You
The EOHU School Health Team is a multi-disciplinary team of public health professionals who are ready and able to support your healthy school initiatives.
EOHU School Health Team members can:
- Support Healthy School Committees during planning, implementation/roll-out and evaluation processes.
- Collect, analyze, and present data on the health status of students.
- Support youth engagement and topic-specific training for the school committee.
- Identify evidence-based and/or most promising interventions.
- Facilitate access to resources, training, and support materials.
Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification
While addressing health topics using a CSH approach, schools can choose to register for Ophea (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association)’s Healthy Schools Certification. Through a point-based system, over the course of the school year, schools can receive gold, silver, or bronze certification.
Registration gives schools access to:
- Activity ideas that are related to different health topics (including choice boards to support student engagement).
- Support, training, and consultation services from the OPHEA Healthy Schools Certification Team.
- The opportunity to make your school a happier, healthier place!
Visit healthyschools.ca for more information.
Call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120 and ask to speak to a member of the School Health Team or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.