A new report from Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) released Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 makes key recommendations to improve how Ontario schools can support youth with mental health and addictions issues. Spearheaded by CMHO’s Youth Action Committee, Building a Better School Environment for Youth with Mental Health and Addiction Issues identified the need for:
- Improved communication between students and educators
- A greater level of mental health education
- Increased resources to ensure more young people seek help, such as designated safe spaces.
CMHO’s Youth Action Committee consulted with nearly 300 youth, aged 11 to 24, through a variety of methods including an online survey, focus groups, a video contest and individual submissions.
Among the findings, stigma was identified as a barrier to seeking support as 46 percent of youth were fearful for their emotional safety. Only 35 percent of youth respondents felt that most staff at their school had an understanding of youth mental health issues and 28 percent indicated that mental health issues are not covered in the school curriculum. Peer support and greater mental health professional connections were among other specific recommendations to help increase the capacity for schools to create a more supportive environment.
CMHO will provide the report to Ontario school board mental health leads as well as mental health workers in the school as a basis for future discussion about improving support for students with mental health and/or addiction issues.
See “Building a Better School Environment for Youth with Mental Health and Addiction Issues” at the Children’s Mental Health Ontario website.