The provincial government announced funding for new school-based mental-health programs focused on prevention, wellness promotion and early intervention.
The NDP unveiled the $3-million investment on Monday that will include grants for all 60 school districts and independent schools for staff training sessions, parent information nights, the development of new resource materials for educators, families and community organizations, as well as student workshops.
“With access to new mental-health programs in schools, students will get the help they need when they need it,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.
“This is essential as we all work together to strengthen mental health and addictions care in British Columbia. Educators, students and parents are clear that we need to help schools better identify early warning signs and provide ongoing support to youth with mental-health issues.”
The funding will also go towards improving the existing mental-wellness programs.
The B.C. government is in the midst of preparing the province’s mental health and addiction strategy to be unveiled later this year. The province is working on “a seamless and co-ordinated mental health and addictions system” with a focus on children and youth, as well as prevention and early intervention.
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“Today’s students face social and emotional challenges that are becoming more and more complex all the time,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said.
“When we address these issues early, students will be able to not just survive, but thrive — and they will benefit for years to come. I am so proud to work with the Ministry of Education to promote positive mental health and wellness. Together, we are making life better for B.C.’s kids.”
The Ministry of Children and Family Development has also recently collaborated with Anxiety Canada to create new Grades K-7 anxiety prevention workshops and classroom resources. The program will run through May.
Mental wellbeing is a key area of the new provincial physical and health education curriculum.
According to the province, approximately 84,000 school-aged children experience one or more mental-health disorders at any given time and only one-third receive the specialized treatment they need.
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