The FLOW (Family Learning Opportunity and Wellness) program is district tier 3 program coordinated through Island ConnectEd and Learning Alternatives. At this time, our FLOW program is designed as a 1 semester program for students in grades 9-12. This program is designed to support teens who are already attending individual mental health counselling via community agencies and/or a child psychiatrist.
The FLOW program is designed to provide social-emotional and mental health support for academically driven students whose current mental health makes it difficult to attend the larger brick and mortar high schools in our district. Our school site provides a low stimulus environment (no bells or block rotations) that removes many of the anxiety drivers experienced by our students.
As a society, we are learning more about the prevalence of mental illness faced by both the young and old alike. Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect one’s mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.
The Family Learning Outreach and Wellness program focuses on four main wellness areas while also supporting students in their pursuit of academic goals. The four wellness areas are:
- Stress & Anxiety Management
- Active Living
- Healthy Eating
- Building Social Connections
Students in the FLOW program work closely with our teacher-counsellor, our child youth family support worker, and our educational assistant to address these four areas in a small group setting and through scheduled activities, lessons and outings. The success of students and the program is based upon daily participation in activities.
A common profile of students that qualify for the FLOW program are:
- Diagnosed complex mental health challenges (often anxiety and depression)
- Connection with our local Health Community (typically a Psychiatrist or Child Youth Mental Health)
- Internalizing behaviours rather than externalizing
- A desire to complete academics while working towards school graduation
- Difficulty attending a traditional school setting but a willingness to attend our small group setting on a daily basis
- A willingness of the student’s family to be in regular contact with our FLOW staff
Access into the FLOW program begins with (a) an Integrated Case Management (ICM) process initiated by a student’s home school followed by (b) a screening meeting with the FLOW staff and members of our community’s mental health agencies. Parents and students who believe the FLOW program may be a “good fit” are encouraged to connect with their school (counsellor or school administrator) to discuss the program.
NoteMental health impacts a significant percentage of our population. Our FLOW team is very proud to work with so many amazing young people who are working through the challenges of Mental Health. Mental health challenges don’t define our students rather these challenges indicate the need for “different tools and coping skills” to help manage daily activities!