Strategies and tips for healthy workplaces in K-12 education

Explore strategies and tips that offer experts’ insights on how to create a healthy workplace that is committed to promoting and supporting the well-being and resiliency of K-12 educators.


While many school districts have invested in stress reduction programs and policies to help staff cope with daily systemic pressures beyond their control, these positive innovations remain a patchwork of success. The influence of working conditions on staff well-being – and the ramifications this can have on student outcomes – is often overlooked, leading to one-off interventions focused on individual cases rather than the systemic approaches that transform entire education systems for the better. It’s a common case of tackling the symptoms rather than the disease.

What is a whole-school approach to mental health and well-being?

A Comprehensive School Health (CHS) approach is an internationally-recognized framework that builds capacity to integrate well-being and health into all aspects of school and learning. A CHS approach addresses the need for coordinated efforts across sectors in supporting students’ health. Participation from both families and the community are needed in order to support and collaborate with schools. Adopting a CHS approach consists of four interconnected components:

Comprehensive school health

Social and Physical Environment

A social environment emphasizes the quality of relationships between school staff and students, as well as the emotional well-being of students. The physical environment considers the physical space and structures in school (e.g. classroom, playground) that are designed to promote student safety and accessibility.

Teaching and Learning

Providing professional development opportunities for teachers highlighting strategies on how to best support students’ health and well-being.


Creating policies, guidelines, and practices that shape caring, safe and respectful schools for all staff and students with a focus on well-being and achievement at the centre.

Partnerships and Services

Collaborating with various community and school-based services to develop action plans that support both students and school staff well-being.¹

‘Health Champions’ and ‘School Health Teams’ play a key role in building a healthy school community for both staff and students using the principles of the Comprehensive School Health approach.

Positive mental health is “the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.”² – Public Health Agency of Canada

Health Champions are school staff and other members of the school community who have an interest in making school a healthier place, and may already be taking part in well-being initiatives. These individuals are not necessarily well-being experts, but rather have a passion for driving whole-school health and well-being forward, and understand the importance of this investment. Health Champions take on roles such as:

  • Raising awareness about well-being in the school community, and acting as well-being advocates within their school and school district
  • Acting as key contact persons for external partners and stakeholders, such as government or community health organizations

School Health Teams are staff and school community members who focus more closely on planning and implementing a well-being vision and action plan for the school community. School Health Teams take on roles such as:

  • Providing direction and leadership for well-being initiatives in the school community
  • Identifying key priorities by consulting with school community members and developing an action plan to address those priorities.²

¹ Comprehensive School Health Framework: What is Comprehensive School Health? (via Pan-Canada Joint Consortium for School Health)

²  Health Champions and School Health Teams: Leaders in Building Healthy School Communities (via Alberta Health Services)

See also: A whole school framework for emotional well being and mental health: A self-assessment and improvement tool for school leaders (via National Children’s Bureau)

See also: A whole-school approach to positive mental health (via Alberta Health Services)

See also: Comprehensive school health knowledge guide (via Healthy Schools BC)

See also: Foundations for a healthy school (via Ontario Ministry of Education)

Image Quote: Mental Health and Wellness(via Public Health Agency of Canada)