Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives

What is the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives learning series?

Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives is a free, bilingual, self-study learning series that aims to prepare foster, group, kin, adoptive, and customary care providers to support the mental health needs of children and youth in their care. It was created specifically for care providers to help them understand the types of mental health challenges faced by children and youth in the child welfare system, so that they are better equipped to help them.

For more resources to help you better understand the mental health needs of children and youth in the child welfare system, visit take-5.org.

What topics are covered in Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives?

Some of the topics included in the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives learning series are signs and symptoms of mental health concerns; trauma, attachment, and mental health; communicating with young people about mental health; systems navigation; supporting youth with risky behaviours; and supporting the mental wellness of Indigenous, Black, and LGBT2SQ+ youth.

There is a particular focus in the series on identities that are overrepresented in the child welfare system and the impacts that racism, oppression, and discrimination against these groups can have on their well-being.

The Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives learning series also includes self-care strategies and practices to encourage care providers to prioritize their own health and emotional well-being.

Who should take the Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives learning series?

Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives was created for foster, group, kin, adoptive, and customary care providers. However, the information in the course will benefit anyone working in the child welfare or private care provider sector.

At this time, the learning series is only available to individuals in these sectors.

How long will it take to do?

Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives is comprised of 8 courses and a total of 15 modules. Each module is between 30-45 minutes for a total of approximately 9 hours of learning.

What courses are available for registration?

All courses are now available for registration. They are:

Child and Youth Mental Health 101 and the Pandemic’s Impact

This course sets the foundation for the other courses in this series. It includes a welcome from OACAS CEO Nicole Bonnie, and it provides a general overview of child and youth mental health, the impact of the pandemic on their mental health, and how it affects children and youth differently than adults. Participants will learn to recognize the signs of mental health issues in children and youth. Furthermore, participants will learn how a child’s mental health impacts the entire family, some quick tips to start making things better, and how to reach out for support if they are struggling.

Trauma and Attachment

In this course participants will learn about what trauma is, the different types of trauma, and how trauma experienced in childhood derails development. Furthermore, participants will build on their understanding of complex developmental trauma by learning about the threat response system and how it becomes over-sensitized in those with trauma histories. Finally, participants will learn what the Window of Tolerance is, how it is changed by exposure to toxic stress in Complex Developmental Trauma, and how this is expressed through the behaviour of children and youth in care.

Trauma and Attachment Knowledge in Action: Supporting Children and Youth in Your Care

Building on the Trauma and Attachment course, this course focuses on ways in which care providers can support the mental health of the children and youth in their care. Participants will learn how to recognize when a child or youth in their care is dysregulated and how to respond in a trauma-informed way that supports co-regulation. Furthermore, this course will focus on effective communication strategies for children and youth with trauma histories. Finally, participants will learn about how caring for traumatized children and youth can impact their own nervous systems and how to prioritize and engage in regular self-care practices.

Supporting Youth with Risky Behaviours

In this course, participants will learn about risky behaviours, a particularly challenging issue in caring for children and youth with complex developmental trauma, and how to respond to these behaviours in a trauma-informed way. Participants will also learn about the brain’s reward system and the importance of harm-reduction strategies that can help youth lessen these behaviours and engage in healthier ones instead.

Systems Navigation

In this course, participants will learn how trauma and chronic exposure to adverse experiences impact children and youth, and how caregivers can help them heal through trauma-informed parenting strategies. Also, participants will learn how to be a trauma-informed advocate for children and youth in their care, with specific focus on how to navigate the educational, medical, and mental health systems.

Wholistic Approaches to Wellness for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth, and Care Providers

Developed and owned by the Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO), with permission granted to share the information, these modules explore and identify supports to sustain wellness for First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children, youth, and care providers in a good way. Understanding the importance of building partnerships in the Circle-of-Care to provide wholistic approaches to wellness that include prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies, tools, and resources for all.

Working with LGBTQ2S+ Communities to Support Mental Wellness

In this course, participants will explore gender-and sexuality-affirming care for non-binary and transgender youth and learn to break down the assumptions that care providers carry about youth expression. They will also develop the skills to share power and dismantle mental health obstacles for youth in care. Furthermore, participants will explore how transphobia can affect the mental health of youth and children in care, as well as develop the skills to be an ally to transgender and non-binary youth. Finally, participants will learn about the effects of discrimination on transgender and non-binary youth.

Working with Black Communities to Support Mental Wellness 

In this course, participants will learn about anti-Black racism and its impact on the mental health of Black children and families. The course also explores how cumulative racial trauma affects mental and physical well-being, and the measures all care providers can employ to support children and youth who have experienced racial trauma. The second module is designed specifically for Black care providers. Participants will learn about wellness and healing strategies to support their own unique perspectives and lived experience.


How do I register?

For registration details, please email HealthyMinds@oacas.org. You will receive a response within two business days.