The OnPoint Parenting Podcast is overseen by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and has seen 3,826 downloads since its launch in February

A podcast featuring parenting advice from Simcoe County experts is getting national recognition on the parenting podcast stage.

The OnPoint Parenting Podcast was started earlier this year through the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board to reach more families looking for answers on how to support their kids’ mental health and well-being. This month, the podcast is running a special four-part series to help students navigate their return to school, culminating in a live virtual Q&A event on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.

Chantelle Quesnelle is the host of OnPoint Parenting and is the Mental Health Lead for the Catholic board. Guests of the podcast include experts on a variety of topics, some hailing from Simcoe County.

“The goal of the podcast is to support our local parents and to address topics that are going to be helpful for them. The topics really needed to come from them,” she said. “We wanted it to feel like parents were just joining in a conversation among experts, but not super clinical.”

Episodes have been posted monthly since launching in February 2021. The podcast is gaining in popularity, with it averaging roughly 444 monthly downloads and 3,826 total downloads since starting up.

Its third episode, “Exploring Mood Challenges,” was ranked third for parenting podcasts in Canada for that month according to Podcast Co.

The podcast started as a suggestion through the SMCDSB’s parent involvement committee.

Quesnelle said historically, the committee held parent nights throughout the year, but the suggestion for the podcast came from a concern that not all families had the ability to attend the in-person meetings, so perhaps a virtual option could reach more people.

“Even though we had child care on-site, only some parents could come out in the evening. There are issues with transportation and other obligations,” said Quesnelle. “It was being brainstormed right when COVID-19 hit, so that reinforced the idea that we needed to create another way to get information to parents.”

Topics covered in the podcast include navigating stress, dealing with anxiety, mood changes and spirituality, and are decided upon based on suggestions from the committee. The episodes run about 20 minutes each.

The podcast’s website also has a forum where parents can send in questions.

Quesnelle said the topic list was generated pre-COVID, so once the pandemic hit some of the topics were tweaked to incorporate new concerns and questions that were rolling in.

“It continues to unfold in terms of what themes we’re also seeing within the psychology department at the board, like what trends we’re noticing,” she said.

Quesnelle has been with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board since 2014 and has held positions as a school counsellor and psychological associate. As a mother of two, she is familiar with the challenges, successes, and adventures in parenting.

She noted conversations around child mental health have become more prominent throughout the pandemic.

“It’s been good to hear the conversation move front and centre. It’s unfortunate that these are the circumstances under which we’re talking about it more, but I think it’s an important thing that we’re talking about it,” she said.

The September episode will cover the relationship between home and school, and the October episode will address talking to kids about racism. Future episodes could cover topics such as video gaming and addressing human trafficking.

“We’re hopeful that some parents will feel more connected to resources, and (information) not being (given) on a screen. I think we’re all screened-out,” she said, with a laugh.

The OnPoint Parenting Podcast is available through Amazon, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and through other podcast apps and through their website here.