A growing body of evidence shows that promoting social and emotional wellbeing in schools for children and youth not only supports positive mental health, but also improves outcomes in school. Yet, Canadian schools do not consistently address social and emotional wellbeing as a core part of their role. In 2015, WellAhead began working in British Columbia to experiment with ways to better integrate wellbeing into K-12 education.

In our first year, we tested whether the following strategies could result in more meaningful integration of social and emotional wellbeing in the six pilot districts:

  1. A community-led, participatory change process based on social innovation labs
    1. We hypothesized that by giving agency to each district to collectively ideate and select solutions, then prototype these in real time, there would be greater ownership, buy-in and sustained support for social and emotional wellbeing.
  2. A strategic focus on everyday practices
    1. Everyday practices to promote wellbeing were framed as things that were easy to do, didn’t re quire training, time or money, and could be easily incorporated into the class and/or school routine.
  3. Adherence to a core set of values
    1. Our approach was guided by a set of principles:collaboration, mass participation, collectiveownership, transparency, and emergence. These values were meant to address the gaps in existing initiatives that we learned about in our consultation phase.

In the following report, Advancing Wellbeing in Schools, WellAhead shares 15 lessons about education, philanthropy & systems change learned through this process.