In this issue

  1. Video launch – cannabis, teens and mental health
  2. Education conference – Mental Health Academy
  3. Community highlight: New Brunswick school districts

Welcome to another edition of the TeenMentalHealth.org Conversation – a place where we provide information on happenings in the area of youth mental health. Feel free to join the conversation by sharing questions, feedback, photos, or ideas for future editions.

Video launch – cannabis, teens and mental health

Thanks to the support of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia Community Grant, we partnered with ILOVEPRODUCING and launched our “Cannabis, teens and mental health” video.

The video stars fictional YouTube influencer Todd Bullman, who shares the facts to better educate youth on cannabis use. The video complements our ‘cannabis use in teens‘ resources.

While targeted towards youth, the video can be shared online or in classrooms to educate anyone wanting to learn more about cannabis use in teens.

Education conference – Mental Health Academy

Mark your calendars for this year’s Mental Health Academy. This one-day seminar will feature dynamic leaders in the adolescent mental health field and provide educators with specific tools needed to better support students in their classrooms.

  • Date: Friday, July 19, 2019
  • Location: Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School, 1855 Trollope St, Halifax, NS
  • Registration opens Feb. 18 at mentalhealthacademy.ca

Community highlight – New Brunswick’s Anglophone North & South school districts

In October 2018, 25 education and healthcare professionals came together in New Brunswick for Dr. Kutcher’s training on TeenMentalHealth.org’s Blended Guide and Go-To Training Program.

New Brunswick’s Anglophone North and South school districts have both seen positive changes from their mental health literacy initiatives.

The Anglophone South School District has put a focus on mental health literacy, and is seeing policy change improvements in the implementation of school mental health.

“Our District Education Council has made mental health part of their policy – meaning it’s a priority not only for students, but also for staff, support staff, custodians, bus drivers and all employees in our district,” says Jennifer Grant, School Counselling and ISD Processes Coordinator.

Since implementing the policy, the district has seen participation in educators and students. “Teachers are more interested in learning about mental health concerns with students, and educational assistants are doing professional learning around mental health. We’ve also seen increased service referrals for K-12 students, and noticed that students want to learn about brain development,” says Grant.

The district found that mental health literacy training on the Guide benefited all staff involved. “We found that the practical approach to mental health literacy is essential information to share with our staff. The Go-To Educator program is an excellent, well-planned program for us as leaders in our district to improve and promote mental health literacy with all staff – not just our school counsellors,” says Grant.

With the success of school mental health policy changes and training, the district is now looking to the future of mental health literacy.

“Our goal is to have a systematic roll-out of the Go-To Educator program and the lesson plans with the Teen Mental Health Curriculum. This will complement already-existing mental health outcomes in our personal development and career planning courses, and we’ll continue to embed it into other relevant courses,” says Grant.

New Brunswick’s Anglophone North School District is highlighting mental health education in the province by placing mental health literacy at the forefront. James M. Hill Memorial High School in Miramichi is piloting TeenMentalHealth.org’s Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide within their district’s curriculum.

Grade 11 psychology students at James M. Hill High School filmed an engaging video based on teachings from the Guide. The video discusses the mental health triangle, depression, ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, and possible treatments for those living with mental illness. (We’re not sure whether or not the video was graded, but we give it an A+).

The district’s Guide education evolved from a team effort within the Anglophone North School District. Connie Daley, Director of Education Support Services recognized a need for educators to support students affected by mental illness.

“Teachers want to help their students. However, when faced with a student who is anxious or depressed, they’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. Since making mental health a focus in our district, educators feel better equipped to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and how to implement strategies to best support the student,” says Daley.

With the support of Superintendent Mark Donovan, Daley was empowered to dedicate resources and personnel towards mental health literacy – which has benefited both students and educators.

“Training on the Guide has improved mental health literacy in students. They recognize signs and symptoms of various mental illnesses and know where to go for help. My sense is that there’s been a reduction in the stigma surrounding mental health and more of a willingness to reach out for help when needed,” says Daley.

While the initiatives have been successful at James M. Hill High School, the district has since rolled-out the program in three other schools as part of existing classes.

“My goal would be for all staff and students to be trained in mental health literacy. Knowledge, understanding, reducing stigma and knowing where to go for help are all aspects of mental health with which everyone should be familiar. The Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide needs to be built into existing curriculums to ensure that every student receives this important information,” says Daley.

TeenMentalHealth.org offers core mental health literacy training on the Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide, as well as the Go-To Educator training. If your district is interested in professional learning opportunities, visit teenmentalhealth.org/schoolmhl.