Mental Health Credit Course in Schools
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"I think we should have a mandatory mental health class that you get credit for, where you learn about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia and other mental disorders. And you also learn good coping skills and ways to get help."(from a September 2017 post on our Facebook page)
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ONE CHILD OR YOUTH SUICIDE IS TOO MANY.
- There is no education without good mental health. And yet, for many students from elementary school to post secondary school, the struggle to deal with mental health challenges and disabilities in order to access and manage an education is real. When we respect the brain, brain health and brain and learning differences, a lot is possible.
We need to start mental health infusion in the elementary grades when many challenges with mental ill health become evident. The education system has a crucial role to play in child and youth mental health awareness, suicide intervention and prevention, resource awareness and skill development.
1 in 5: One in five students has a mental health challenge or disability.
5 in 5: Five out of five of us is affected.
- We can all make a difference in child and youth suicide intervention and prevention and mental health awareness and education. We all have responsibility for supporting young people. As Gail Adams said, “any chance of avoiding the tragedy of youth suicides should be embraced by the government and the school system.”
We have a lot of work to do to tackle the very real stigma and taboos surrounding mental illness. A mental health credit course allows the door to open for those who are struggling in silence and shame.
A measure of society is how we take care of each other. We’ve got to take better care of each other.
We are asking Ministers of Education to provide the funding and resources necessary to create a consistent and comprehensive mental health course in secondary schools. We can all make a difference in youth suicide prevention.
We are asking you to stand up for youth and for the education, health and lives of our students.
- All Ministers of Education
- Alberta Alberta Education Minister: David Eggen http://www.education.alberta.ca/ Telephone
- Ministry of Education Minister: Rob Fleming www.gov.bc.ca/bced/
- Manitoba Department of Education and Training Minister: Ian Wishart www.edu.gov.mb.ca
- Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister: Brian Kenny www2.gnb.ca/conten
- Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister: Dale Kirby www.gov.nl.ca/edu/
- Department of Education, Culture and Employment Minister: Alfred Moses http://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/
- Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister: Karen Lynn Casey www.ednet.ns.
- Department of Education Minister: Paul Quassa www.gov.nu.ca
- Ministry of Education Minister: Mitzie Jacquelin Hunter www.edu.gov.on.ca
- Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister: Doug W. Currie https://www.princee
- Ministère de l'Éducation, de l'Enseignement supérieur Ministre de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
- Ministry of Education Minister: Bronwyn Eyre www.saskatchewan.ca/government/government-structure
- Department of Education Minister: Tracy-Anne McPhee www.education.gov.yk.ca
Mental Health Credit Course in Schools
We believe that the education system must respect the brain, brain health and brain and learning differences with a compulsory course that focuses on mental health awareness and suicide intervention and prevention.
A mental health credit course will:
• Help prevent the development of mental ill health in children and teenagers
• Decrease the vast numbers of children and young people suffering from mental illness
• Support the message that we all have responsibility for the health, education and lives of young people
• Educate our children and future generations for a happier and healthier adulthood
• Provide young people with the skills and information to access an education, believe in their futures and realize their employment and life potential
• Create huge advantages for the Canadian economy and industry for decades to come
• Normalise mental health issues as an accepted human condition so that children will feel confident enough to open up to each other and those who care for them
• Enable a more proactive society in addressing mental health issues, giving children the ability and confidence to speak out during their childhood and indeed into adulthood, as they go into the workplace and have their own families
Why mental health education needs to be compulsory
The mental health of our children and young people has reached a crisis point. Mental health problems are happening right now in our schools and affecting too many of our children.
• 850,000 Canadian children aged 5–16 have mental health problems, which equates to around 3 children in every classroom
• 1 in 5 children will experience a mental health difficulty before the age of 11
• The number of young people going to the Emergency Department with a psychiatric condition has risen since 2009.
How mental health education is taught in Canada:
Canadian curriculum puts a lot of emphasis on teaching our children about how our bodies work, physical illnesses, and how exercise and nutrition can keep us healthy. These are taught in mandatory subjects such as physical education, health, nutrition and biology.
But what are we doing to teach them about mental health and the possibility of mental illness?
Currently, mental health education is taught inconsistently in Canada and only in secondary schools as a unit – despite 1 in 5 children experiencing a mental health difficulty before the age of 11.
The team behind Youth Mental Health Canada believes that the system is failing our children by not providing the adequate education on mental health at an earlier age, and not within a framework which is compulsory. This means that mental health education is all too often overlooked or dropped altogether. Simply put, we aren’t equipping our children with the knowledge and skills to understand something that affects three children (between the ages of 5 – 16) in every classroom.
How we want Mental Health Education to be taught:
We firmly believe that we should start educating our children on mental health before they head off to secondary school. It should be compulsory within both primary and secondary schools and be taught at an age appropriate level, depending on which key stage the students are in.
Mental health education in Canada needs urgent reform, or else the alarming numbers of children and young people suffering from mental health issues will continue to increase.
What compulsory mental health education will do:
Compulsory mental health education in all schools will enable pupils of any age to develop the skill set, knowledge, understanding, language and ability to seek help, if required, for themselves, their friends and family.
Children will be able to identify when help is required, what types of help are available, and how to access it.
Having a platform to enable pupils to talk openly about mental health issues will help towards eliminating stigma and facilitate discussion on specific issues affecting children and young people’s mental health. For example, bullying and social media pressures often lead to high numbers of self-harm and suicide.
“Having worked as a mental health advisor in a further education college for the last 8 years, I want to express my support to make mental health education compulsory in elementary and secondary education. Mental health. Physical health. Health. All forms of health should be explained and explored in age appropriate ways throughout school years. No one is exempt, but a proactive versus reactive approach can reduce the risks and severity of long term mental health issues. This is a vital step in improving wellbeing for children, young people, and all individuals.” Eleanor Port-Burke, Cambridgeshire Expressive Arts and Counselling Centre
Generation after generation has been let down by the lack of education and understanding around mental health and positive mental health maintenance. Good mental health education lasts a lifetime.
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