Mountainside Secondary School
North Vancouver School District
The Ascent Program

Ascent Students at their Halloween Photo Booth

Ascent is a partnership between the North Vancouver School District and Vancouver Coastal Health. Our program combines academics with clinical support for students whose mental health concerns have interfered with their learning. Our goal is to help students learn to manage their mental health symptoms and engage in a supportive educational program.

Ascent is for students who are ready to seek help for the mental health conditions that have negatively impacted their success at school. Ascent is a short-term program designed to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in a full-time school program. In our experience, the students who are most likely to benefit from Ascent will:

    • Be in grades 9-12

  • Have been unsuccessful in the mainstream school setting largely due to MH concerns (anxiety and depression) despite interventions such as counseling, learning assistance or Choices

  • Have internalizing rather than externalizing behaviours, as students with externalizing behaviours can damage group dynamics and reduce feelings of safety

  • Be “group ready” - ready and/or willing to participate in group check-ins and discussions

  • Have adequate motivation, cognitive ability, and insight to learn new ways of coping
  • Be willing and able to participate in psychoeducational groups

  • Be willing to attend every morning to the best of their abilities

  • Ideally, be already connected to a mental health professional who can help to facilitate their transitions to and from the program

Program Specifics

The Ascent is a short-term, morning-only program that runs twice per school year: from September – January and from February – June. There are two components to our program:

1. Therapeutic Program

 This program focuses on symptom management. Students work one on one and in groups with two clinicians from VCH. Students will complete a therapeutic program designed to improve management of symptoms from anxiety and/or depression. Some of the benefits of our therapeutic program include:

  • Daily check-in and check-out

  • weekly skills-based therapeutic group

  • Individual counseling as needed

  • Coffee, tea and snacks in a small kitchenette

 2. Academic Program

 Students who suffer from anxiety or depression are often unable to engage fully in the learning process. Our goal is to provide a nurturing climate where we identify individual needs and set goals to help students experience academic success. Students may work independently, in small groups, or as a full class.

We offer three academic “blocks” of study in Ascent, including:

  • English 9-12

  • Wellness 10-12
  • Self-Efficacy 9-12
  • Planning 10 or 12 (if needed)

  • Photography

Students will be given the opportunity to complete three courses during the semester. Students who do not finish will continue their coursework after completion of the Ascent program.

Referral Process:

Referrals to Ascent are initiated by the either the School Based Resource Team (SBRT) at one of the mainstream high-schools in North and West Vancouver, or by a clinician or psychiatrist at Vancouver Coastal Health. Students coming from outside of the North or West Vancouver School Districts will need to first register with the school district at the NVSD Education Services Centre at 2121 Lonsdale Ave. (map link). All referrals for Ascent will be screened by the District Resource Team and Vancouver Coastal Health for appropriate fit, with priority given to students from the North Vancouver School District.

Any further inquiries can be directed to Lucas King, Principal of Mountainside Secondary School, at 604-903-3333 or by e-mailing


Note: Students who have been out of school will likely need a slow transition back to school, supported by a mental health professional, Youth Outreach Worker, or Youth Engagement Worker, and should not necessarily be considered for the Ascent as a “fix” for isolating behaviours. Very often, these students are not group ready and are overwhelmed by expectations to speak in a group or to attend every day.

Additional Information Links:

Parent Pamphlet.pdf

Referral Pamphlet.pdf