Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions said “The best way to reach young people with mental health and addictions supports is to bring those services to them — to schools, where they spend most of their time,that is why innovative programs, like the one we are supporting today at Mountainside, are going to be so important to our mental health and addictions strategy. This is how we connect young people to services and work toward a seamless system of treatment for youth, where you ask for help once and you get help fast.”
The Government of British Columbia and community partners are supporting a two-year project at Mountainside Secondary school, to expand classroom-to-community mental health and addictions connections in the North Vancouver School District (NVSD).
The project, supported by $225,000 in provincial funding, will build on Mountainside Secondary school’s mental health and addictions hub and community partnerships. It will do so by looking at the structural elements of the hub that could extend beyond Mountainside. This allows other schools in the district similar access to integrated mental health and addictions supports and services. The project is scheduled to run from September 2018 to September 2020.
Funding will support a dedicated staff member for the project, as well as administration and training resources, and research and data collection. It will help to build and refine a continuum of support for students that extends from the classroom to mental health and addictions supports, and services provided by agencies at the community level.
“We know that too few students are accessing mental-health supports, and many of them are waiting until they are 17 or older, when their symptoms worsen,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This project focuses on preventing mental-health challenges before they begin, and addressing issues that do come up as soon as possible, to make sure all students between the ages of five to 17 can get the help they need and deserve.”
The project builds on both the work of the NVSD to better align mental-health and addictions supports in schools, and the success of the Foundry model, where youth and young adults have access to all of the mental health and addictions services they need under one roof.
As well, the project will support the vision of the ministries of Mental Health and Addictions, Education, Health, and Children and Family Development, for increased mental health and addictions supports through B.C. schools, with a focus on social emotional learning (SEL) skills and positive mental-health training.
“We know the importance of social-emotional learning and mental well-being on students’ success in school,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Our government is committed to building a better system of mental-health supports in schools across B.C., and the investment in this unique program is a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together.”
Throughout the project, community partners will work together and share their understanding of SEL to ensure a consistent approach at both the school and community level. Highlighting important developmental and preventative roles that schools and educators play in connecting young people to mental health and addictions resources will also be a focus throughout the two-year project.
“Our board has worked closely with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to have this funding approved, and are thrilled that this project has come to fruition,” said Christie Sacré, chairperson, North Vancouver Board of Education. “Through classroom-to-community connections, students will be able to have their mental-health needs addressed, and in doing so, promote good mental health and student well-being. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank the ministry, our partner groups, and the community for their support, as we move forward with this project.”
“On behalf of the North Vancouver School District, I would like to thank the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for the funding of $225,000, to pilot a two-year project that will integrate mental-health support in schools, building student resiliency, with a specific focus on teaching of social emotional skills,” said Pius Ryan, assistant superintendent with the North Vancouver School District. “By creating a clear and direct path through the school system to mental health and addictions supports and services in the community, students in the NVSD will be able to access the resources they need to help them with their unique circumstances, such as anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, or other mental health or addictions challenges.”
In the long term, the partnerships and connections nurtured through the project will assist the NVSD to explore the next steps to expand and enhance service delivery across the district. The project will also be evaluated to determine its effectiveness and potential to be expanded to other school districts in B.C.
“Funding for this initiative will assist more students and various age groups across the North Vancouver School District. This is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Elysia Delgarno, a Grade 12 student from Mountainside Secondary. “I am pleased that the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is leading the way for a brighter future, and making a difference in our lives. The positive impact will be felt way into adulthood.”