Key Terms and Notes

A variety of key terms are used when speaking about substance use (including cannabis use) and working in a school environment. Here are a few definitions that you should be familiar with as you get started.

Addiction: A physiological and psychological dependence on a substance (such as alcohol) or behaviour (such as gambling).

Administration: The principal and vice-principal(s) of a school.

Appreciation/recognition: Showing gratitude, for example writing a letter or card, or giving acknowledgement during a meeting or event). Appreciation is included in Step 4 of Ophea’s 4-Step Healthy Schools Process, and participating schools are encouraged to show appreciation and/or give recognition to those involved in Healthy Schools in a school community.

Asynchronous learning: Online learning in which students are engaged in learning without real time interaction and within a flexible time frame.

Blended learning: Online learning combined with face-to- face learning in a traditional classroom setting with the teacher and other students present.

Cannabis: Any part of the plant Cannabis sativa. Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical substances. More than 110 of these are known as cannabinoids. (Based on information at About Cannabis).

Cannabinoid: A chemical substance derived from the cannabis plant.

CBD (cannabidiol): A cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxication, or “a high.” Some evidence suggests that CBD may block or lower some of the effects of THC on the brain. This may occur when the amount of CBD in the cannabis is the same or greater than the amount of THC. CBD is also being studied for possible therapeutic uses. (Based on information at About Cannabis)

Community partner: Any member of the local community around a school who can contribute to the development of a healthy school (for example, recreation and sport groups, municipalities, or local businesses). Community partners may vary depending of the specific school community. While public health can be a key community partner, for the purposes of Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification the term community partner refers to any community partner apart from Public Health, which is listed as a separate group because of their often vital role in the Healthy Schools approach.

Face-to-face learning: Learning in a traditional classroom setting with the teacher and other students present.

Healthy Schools approach: A collaborative approach in which members of the school community come together to share ideas, plan, and take action on priority health topic(s) while following a repeatable, step-by-step process to make sustainable change in their schools, homes, and community.

Healthy Schools (HS) Certification: Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification helps school communities like yours focus on a health topic by following the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process and supports schools in addressing health and well-being in their school community.

Mental health: The capacity of each person to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.

Mental health leader: People employed by the school board to co-ordinate and support the development, implementation, and evaluation of the school board mental health strategy for enhanced student mental health and well-being.

Online learning: Any learning that takes place remotely and not in a traditional classroom setting.

Peer pressure/influence: The direct or indirect influence by peers (individual or group) on an individual to conform to the behaviour, actions and beliefs of their peers. Peer pressure or influence can be positive or problematic.

Problematic substance use: The use of substances in potentially harmful ways. Problematic substance use includes both substance misuse, which is the use of substances in ways that are illegal or not recommended medically, and substance abuse, which involves excessive use of substances despite the physical, mental, emotional, social, legal, or economic harm that this may cause to oneself or others.

Protective factors: Traits, characteristics, or environmental contexts that research has shown to promote positive mental health in childhood or adolescence. Enhancement of protective factors at the individual, family, and community level is now believed to reduce the likelihood of mental health problems and illnesses later in life. Refer also to “resilience” and “risk factors.” (Excerpted from The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8 Health and Physical Education, 2019).

Public Health: An extensive system of governmental, non-governmental, and community organizations operating at the local, provincial, and federal levels with varying roles, perspectives, and linkages. In Ontario, schools are supported by a system of 36 local Public Health Units that collectively cover the entire province and are individually responsible for serving the population within their geographic borders. Public Health can play a key role in supporting school communities as it relates to Healthy Schools.

Reflection: An exercise that allows members of a school action team to discuss their healthy schools experience, including successes, challenges, and future opportunities. Reflection is included in all 4 steps of Ophea’s 4-Step Healthy Schools Certification Process.

Resilience: The ability to recover quickly or “bounce back” from disruptive change, illness, or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional ways. Resilient people possess the skills to cope with life’s challenges, respond to stress, and move forward after a difficult event. Refer also to “protective factors” and “risk factors.” (Excerpted from The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8 Health and Physical Education, 2019).

Risk factors: Traits, characteristics, or environmental contexts that research has shown to be predictive of mental health problems or illnesses in childhood or adolescence. The effect of a given risk factor tends to be stronger when it is combined with other risk factors, may vary during different periods of a child or youth’s life, and is often cumulative. Refer also to “protective factors” and “resilience.” (Excerpted from The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8 Health and Physical Education, 2019)

School community: All individuals who contribute the health and well-being of students. School community includes all individuals who may influence students at school, in the surrounding neighbourhood, and at home.

School staff: Staff who are employed (in a paid position) by the school, including but not limited to educators, early childhood educators, principals, vice-principals, office staff, and custodial staff. School staff does not include volunteers.

School team: A group or committee operating in a school that supports planning and action as it relates to Healthy Schools. Members of a school team should include individuals who are within (for example, students, educators) and outside (for example, public health, parents/caregivers/family) the physical school grounds.

Substances: A term commonly used as another word for “drugs”. There are many different types of substances, or drugs, that young people might use. Caffeinated energy drinks, cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription medications are some examples.

Student well-being: A positive sense of self, spirit, and belonging that a person feels when their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical needs are being met. Student well-being is supported through equity and respect for a person’s diverse identities and strengths. Well-being in early years and school settings is about helping children and youth become resilient, so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future. (Source: Ontario Ministry of Education)

Synchronous learning: Online learning in which students are engaged in learning in real time either in small groups or as a whole class.

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol): A cannabinoid. THC is the most researched cannabinoid. THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including intoxication, or “the high.” THC has some therapeutic effects, but it also has harmful effects. Harmful effects may be greater when the strength of THC is greater. Cannabis that contains very low amounts of THC in its flowers and leaves (less than 0.3%) is classified as hemp. (Based on information at About Cannabis)

Weedless Wednesday: The Wednesday of Non-Smoking Week. Canada’s annual national Non-Smoking Week campaign established by Health Canada falls in the third week of January each year and focuses on helping people quit smoking and preventing people from starting to smoke. As part of this week, Weedless Wednesday encourages smokers to quit smoking for one day as a start to a non-smoking lifestyle. The campaign began with tobacco awareness and now includes encouraging individuals to quit or refrain from starting to smoke cannabis.

World Health Day: World Health Day, founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948, occurs on April 7th of each year. Its aim is to create awareness about a variety of health themes and highlight priority areas of concern for the World Health Organization.