Promoting Social and Emotional Wellbeing in K-12 Education


Social and emotional wellbeing is key to promoting positive mental health in children and youth, and yet is not meaningfully recognized priority in educational systems across Canada. How can schools better support and promote the social and emotional wellbeing of Canadian youth?


WellAhead is a philanthropic initiative of the McConnell Foundation that aims to improve youth mental health by integrating social and emotional wellbeing in school communities. The project was launched in 2015 in British Columbia and was expanded to Ontario in 2016 and Alberta in 2017. The three pillars of the WellAhead approach are understanding what works and why, building capacity and connection, and influencing policy and practice. These practices are used to engage the education ecosystem, identify effective interventions, and scale and implement them across school districts.

MaRS Solutions Lab’s support of the project has included designing the lab process for the initiative, building social innovation capacity within the system, and shaping communication channels and platforms. MaRS Solutions Lab also designed and supported convenings and summits throughout 2015-2018 about the research framework and developmental evaluation for WellAhead, teacher and school staff wellbeing, and adapting the approach to the different provincial contexts.


In the 2015-2016 school year, six school districts participated in the co-design and prototype process in BC. Four of these districts were funded through the following school year to scale practices to more schools.

In 2016, WellAhead was expanded to Ontario, supporting projects such as Measuring What Matters and School Mental Health ASSIST.

In 2017, an in-depth exploration process was led in Alberta through research, interviews, school visits and a convening of stakeholders, with a funding strategy being developed for launch in 2018.

Learn More

You can learn more about the project on WellAhead’s website.