We’re working hard to support students with mental health concerns

Mental Health AwarenessThe first week of May is National Mental Health Week in Canada. It’s an annual event to encourage people from all walks of life to learn and talk about issues relating to mental health. SCDSB staff members are working hard to provide support to students who are struggling with mental health concerns.

Mental health by the numbers
The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

We know today that one in five Canadian students has a mental health issue. Up to 80% of these students won’t receive treatment because of a variety of barriers, from long wait lists, to the stigma that is often attached to mental health, to the misidentification of the underlying issue.

Support in the classroom
One way that SCDSB schools are promoting mental health and offering support for all students is by embedding of social-emotional learning in daily classroom activities. Here are some ways my school (Eastview) is doing this:

  • The YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness program is used by both the math and Extended French departments to tie curriculum links to mental health awareness.
  • Our health and physical education classes incorporate the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie’s “POWER: Taking chances…making choices” program.
  • In both semesters this year, we have had students from the York/Georgian Collaborative BScN Nursing Program work with classes on stress management.
  • We continue to subscribe to www.teenhealthandwellness.com, which is a resource for staff, students and families about anything from dyslexia to stress, from nutrition to sexuality, from drugs to over-scheduling.

Speaking of over scheduling, Dr. C. Sturdy is coming to Eastview on April 30 at 7 p.m. to give a presentation called “Hurried Parent, Hurried Adolescent.” Everyone is welcome for this free event. No registration is required.

Beyond the classroom—Working with community partners
There is a wide range of mental health promotion and intervention initiatives in place in Simcoe County. Schools work in close connection with various service providers to ensure that all students can access the support they need. Students struggling with a mental health issue may be referred to their school guidance counsellor, one of the child and youth workers assigned to the school, or the school social worker or mental health and addictions nurse to determine which programs and initiatives will help. These connections can assist students with problem solving and building skills to support a specific area of need.

At Eastview, we also partner with New Path Youth and Family Counselling services to provide voluntary counselling through the Adolescent Outreach Program. Counselling support can help youth who are experiencing social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties for any reason, including relationships, mental health diagnosis, physical health, learning concerns, abuse, etc.

As a multi-disciplinary team, New Path has access to psychological and psychiatric consultations for their clients. New Path counsellors frequently partner with other professionals (teachers, doctors, other agencies) to work collaboratively with the youth. Parents are welcome to be involved in the therapy, if the youth agrees.

If you or someone you know needs help
Anyone who is struggling with mental health issues, or who thinks someone close to them is, should speak with their school guidance counsellor.

Youth who are interested in the Adolescent Outreach Program can refer themselves by:

  • calling (705) 733-2654 ext. 2321
  • emailing jvessey@newpath.ca, or
  • completing a referral form in the guidance office

Appointments are scheduled during the school day. There are also a limited number of available times to meet after school at New Path’s office.

Mental health is a major priority for the SCDSB. As we approach National Mental Health Week, there’s no better time to talk about this important issue. Getting the right support and treatment, as early as possible, can make all the difference to children, youth and their families.

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