Substance Use Snapshot Introduction - Sept 2018
 
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Greater Victoria School District Substance Use Philosophy and Goals
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The Greater Victoria School District is committed to providing safe and healthy learning environments for all students. As part of our approach, we have been focusing on mental health and substance use topics to help us promote well-being in our schools.

Substance use is a complex topic that often highlights varied philosophies, myths, and a great deal of fear. The research shows us that early interventions, particularly around critical thinking and decision making, has an impact on delaying use in youth. As well, open dialogue with adults, intentionality around attachment, and a focus on the factors that contribute to substance use, as opposed to the actual substances, also prevent, delay and reduce substance use in our students.

Our goal is to create a more cohesive, systematized substance use plan focusing on social emotional learning, that includes our youth and schools, community partners, and families. We strive for a shared vision, common language and consistent messaging over time, in order to support positive youth culture and a healthy perspective on substance use and mental health.
Middle School Snapshot
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As a parent in the Greater Victoria School District you will be receiving a modified version of the “Substance Use Focus Snapshot” that includes information and resources that pertain to your middle school child. Our secondary school students, staff, and families receive a much more detailed version that is appropriate for that age and developmental stage.

The purpose of the middle school Snapshot is to support students and families with pro-active information and potential resources as your child prepares for the transition to high school. The goal is to educate and provide information to parents in order to avoid, delay or reduce potential substance use in our middle school youth. 
Education and open dialogue about substance use are valuable protective factors that enable youth to make positive decisions about their physical and mental well-being. Please consider any part of these snapshots as speaking points with your child as you see appropriate.  
Strategies for 2018-2019

ELEMENTARY

Additional Counsellors in schools (.5 or more) 

Support for Social Emotional Learning Programs (Second Step and Taxi Dog)

Youth & Family Counsellor and access to Discovery Addiction Counsellors at all schools

Social Emotional Wellness Advocates


MIDDLE

Mental Health Literacy Program for all Grade 8 students

SU Snapshots for Grade 8 students, staff and parents


Youth & Family Counsellor and access to Discovery Addiction Counsellors at all schools

Social Emotional Wellness Advocates

SECONDARY

Odd Squad videos and resource material on Fentanyl.  

SU Snapshots for all students, staff and parents


Youth & Family Counsellor and access to Discovery Addiction Counsellors at all schools

Social Emotional Wellness Advocates 
Substance Use Focus Snapshot Themes
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Results from Parent Survey
In early March 2018, the Learning Support Team asked parents for feedback on substance use, we had
821 parents respond. Most parents wished communication about substance use to be through email.
Survey results included:
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There was an equal representation of parents with students in grades 8 - 12 (approximately 20% for each grade).
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Most parents responded that they had very little concern for their own child's use and did not  see peer pressure as a significant contributor affecting use for their child.
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Topics of most concern or interest have become themes for  later Snapshots (see SU Focus Snapshot Themes Calendar above). The  "Other" category  included death, overdose, and fentanyl as greatest concern.
Resources for schools   families discussing substance use and mental health with youth
1.  Teen Mental Health:  a site with resources for parents, students and educators
2.  Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: offers key information, tools, and resources for parents, caregivers, and youth
3. Healthy Families BC:  offers comprehensive health promotion information including parenting resources
4. Here to Help BC – Mental Health and substance use information
5. Health Link BC – helpful articles on having helpful conversations with kids, parenting, mental health and         substance use 
Starting Points and Talking with your Child
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Research demonstrates that supportive relationships with their parents and other trusted adults (teachers, family members, and other professionals such as counsellors) are a protective factor for youth engaging in substance use. Parents have a key role in teaching their children about substance use through open dialogue and having the knowledge to answer questions. Below are a few tips offered by HealthLink BC:
EDUCATE YOURSELF so you can answer questions.  If you don’t know the answers, offer to look for them together.

BECOME INFORMED. Learn about the substances commonly used by young people, how they work, street names, and the signs of being under the influence.
BE A GOOD LISTENER. Give your kids room to participate and ask questions.  Respect their opinion.

STICK TO THE FACTS. Avoid preaching, scare tactics and exaggeration, which may lead to loss of trust.

LOOK FOR NATURAL OPPORTUNITIES to discuss substance use and decision-making through news stories and social media.
BE OPEN AND RESPECTFUL. Ask questions about what your child is hearing, seeing, or learning about substances.  Then, listen.  Talk about why people use substances and the potential consequences.

FOCUS ON YOUR HEARTFELT CONCERNS for their safety and wellbeing (rather than right/wrong, good/bad, obey/punish).
It is our sincere hope that the “Snapshots” will support you and your middle school child in having these conversations.