B.C. government rolls out more funding for student mental health programs

More funding has been provided to B.C. schools for student mental health programs to ensure youth across the province have the right support when they need it.

The B.C. Government announced the $2-million province-wide grant Wednesday, highlighting it will help make sure kids feel safe and connected at school.

All 60 school districts will receive a portion of the funds to support new, and enhance existing, school-based mental health programs focused on prevention, wellness promotion and early intervention.

About one in seven young people in B.C. — or 14 per cent — will experience a mental illness at some point, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. division.

“Many mental illnesses — between 50 and about 70 per cent — show up before the age of 18, so they can have a huge impact on a child’s development,” the association said.

In B.C., about six per cent of kids experience an anxiety disorder and 3.5 per cent of young people will experience depression, most often in their teen years.

Rob Fleming, education minister, said the goal is to ensure that no matter where students live, they have access to effective and community-based preventative programming that will set them on positive paths to mental health and wellness.

Each school district will be able to choose how the grants are spent based on their individual needs.

Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the funding will allow school districts to make sure more students, teachers and caregivers have the tools they need to support physical, mental, emotional and social well-being during a critical time in a student’s life.

“Every young person deserves the best possible start in life,” she said.

“That’s why these grants are so important.”

This is the second round of student mental health-focused school capacity building grants. The funding is part of $8.87 million being invested over the next three years.

The previous $2 million went towards a variety of programs across school districts. Schools in Cowichan Valley created “Calm kits” to help students manage stress and achieve emotional well-being throughout the day. While schools in Chilliwack organized a school-based Mental Health Strategy Retreat involving 120 educators and the Peace River district produced a number of recommended social and emotional learning programs.

Chris van der Mark, president, B.C. School Superintendents Association said positive mental health is foundational for student success.

“Many initiatives are already underway in all of our school districts, and this funding will allow us to continue to collaborate with our partners and rights holders to expand the scope and impact for all members of the school community.”

 

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