The statistics regarding youth mental health problems are staggering. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (CMCC), between 15% and 25 % of our children and youth suffer at least one mental health problem or illness. These range from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and substance abuse. Mental disorders represent the most common and disabling condition affecting young people and therefore have major implications for students and schools. The Commission also notes that 70% of mental illnesses in adults have their onset during adolescence or childhood and 70% of childhood cases of mental health problems can be solved through early diagnosis and interventions.
As educators, we must help to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health issues in our schools. That is why the CTF has joined the national network of communities, parents, educators and health care practitioners and is working collaboratively with other partners and groups which share our concerns about mental health issues among youth.
We reaffirmed our support with the Mental Health Commission of Canada in the advocacy of mental health within the youth and workplace populations. As a formal partner in the MHCC’s “Partners for Mental Health” public campaign, CTF is doing work to support teachers in the classroom, who are in a position to help students and colleagues. The issue of stigma is pervasive and must be addressed to ensure the health of our school populations. We’re doing that by:
- Surveying classroom teachers on the issue of mental health.
- Taking an active participatory role and promoting the campaigns that fall under “Partners for Mental Health”.
- Ensuring our voice and presence is visible within Mental Health circles to acknowledge that CTF and its Member organizations are well-placed to provide critical input, information, and research to support youth and teachers.
- Taking an active role in informing teachers, through our Member organizations, on information, links, classroom models, research, resources and links to other classroom experts.
- Playing a supporting role with the School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium, whose mandate is to review the scientific literature, survey education administrators on the issue of mental health, scan models and programs currently in use within classroom and community groups, leading to the development of a Mental Health Commission of Canada Knowledge Exchange Centre.
Related news releases
July 11, 2012: CTF survey: Canadian teachers need more resources and professional development to help students with mental health issues
March 21, 2012: Canadian news media regularly stigmatize people with mental illnesses
March 2012: Media Awareness Network article on media portrayal of people with disabilities