Mental Health in Schools

How the MDI aligns with mental health promotion as we head back to school

Published: September 13, 2021

The impact of school closures and additional public health measures resulted in the disruption to relationships, routines and activities for school-aged children in BC. Recent MDI data trends highlight fewer children in grades 7 and 8 reporting high well-being during the pandemic as compared to previous years, as well as a declining presence of key assets, including connectedness to adults and participation in after-school activities, which the research tells us are critical for supporting children’s well-being throughout middle childhood and into adolescence.

As part of addressing the ongoing, negative impacts of the pandemic, the BC Ministry of Education is providing additional funding to support mental health services for students and staff in BC. In addition, a provincial working group recently compiled strategies to support the effective implementation of the BC Mental Health in School Strategy and, in turn, mental health promotion across the school system and in each and every classroom.


MDI data for children in Grades 4 through 8 across the province in 2020-2021 can support multiple strategies to promote mental health in schools. The alignment of MDI with the Mental Health Promotion in Schools principles and strategies is outlined in detail below, along with additional resources and tools to support school district application of MDI data in their initiatives.

Key Principles of Mental Health Promotion in Schools
  • Cultural Responsiveness and Humility: Indigenous Education Councils for individual school districts can request access to MDI data for Indigenous students, including student self-report data on identity and language, which can be used support recognition and respect of Indigenous Peoples. Contact for more information.
  • Trauma-Informed Practices: You can review MDI results to build awareness of the presence of trauma in your school and community and help evaluate efforts in implementing trauma informed practice. Read the MDI and Trauma-Informed Practice Quicksheet to learn more.
  • Strengths Based Approaches: Leverage MDI data to highlight areas of strength or improvement as part of a strengths-based approach to support student well-being and assets. Our Reflection on MDI School Reports Worksheet can support strengths-based reflection of MDI data. 
Mental Health in Schools Strategies
  • Mental Health Literacy and Resilience: One of the consistent findings from MDI data in BC collected over the last 10 years is that children’s self-reported well-being is related to the number of assets they perceive as being present in their lives, including Adult Relationships, Peer Relationships, Nutrition and Sleep, and After-School Activities. The more assets a child has, the more likely they are to experience resilience. Use MDI data to support discussions of well-being, assets and resilience among staff and students.

  • Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): The MDI aligns with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL’s) Five Core Competencies of SEL. Hence, the MDI can be used to for student self-assessment of their social and emotional competencies. Read the MDI and SEL and Social Emotional Development Quicksheets to learn more about how this alignment can support initiatives focused on SEL.

  • School Connectedness: Use MDI data to reflect on students’ perspectives on their feelings of connectedness to adults at school and what makes an adult important to them. MDI data can also provide insights on students’ perspectives of school climate and sense of belonging. Read the School Experiences and Connectedness Quicksheets to learn more.

  • Personal and Social Competencies: Areas measured by the MDI reflect facets of children’s Personal and Social Competencies, providing valuable context for inquiry and discussion related to the BC Curriculum. Read the Core Competencies and the MDI Quicksheet for ideas.

  • Play: The MDI is one of the few existing assessments to provide important information on how children spend their after-school time in structured and unstructured activities, including a description on children’s wishes for after school time. View the After-School Time MDI Quicksheet for ideas on how to support balance in the after-school period.

MDI reports for school districts and communities are publicly available here, and provide an excellent resource for supporting mental health promotion in schools. Please reach out if you need support working with your MDI data, or are interested in participating in the MDI in 2022-23.