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Students, staff supported by new Mental Health in Schools Strategy

The mental health and well-being of B.C. students and staff are at the heart of a new Mental Health in Schools (MHiS) Strategy aimed at finding new and improved ways to support students who need help.

“Students deserve our support and compassion when they experience mental health challenges, and our schools play a crucial role in helping them,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “That’s why our government has made profound investments in school-based student mental health programs and why the new Mental Health in Schools Strategy is so important — so we can ensure kids can access support when they need it and feel safe and connected at school.”

Building on the ERASE and A Pathway to Hope initiatives, the new Mental Health in Schools Strategy embeds positive mental health and wellness programs and services for students in all aspects of the education system. This includes culture, leadership, curriculum and learning environments. The MHiS Strategy is the result of extensive research and collaboration between education and community partners.

“We know that when it comes to the health and well-being of young people, starting early and addressing small problems before they become big ones can make all the difference down the road,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “COVID-19 has impacted everyone in B.C., and our students deserve access to vital supports to help them thrive – now more than ever.”

Improving mental health in schools is an integral part of government’s plan to build the comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve, as outlined in A Pathway to Hope. For the 2020-2021 school year, the government has invested $3.75 million for new and existing mental health activities for students, families and educators. Since September 2017, the Province has committed to an investment of $13.9 million in funding for school district mental health initiatives and grants spanning four years.

“Children and teens face social and emotional challenges that are even more complex during the pandemic,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “I am proud to work with the Ministry of Education to promote positive mental health and wellness. Together we are making life better for B.C.’s kids.”

People in British Columbia may be experiencing an increase in mental health and substance use challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Help is available for people of all ages, and people are encouraged to seek support. To learn more about the new Mental Health in Schools Strategy, visit: erase.gov.bc.ca

Learn More:

For more information on the Province’s enhanced mental health programs to support a safe return to school: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020MMHA0049-001632

To learn more about the Province’ s A Pathway to Hope initiative: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf

For accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions in multiple languages: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-return-to-school

To find free and low cost mental health supports during COVID-19: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/virtual-supports-covid-19

Find out how Here2Talk connects students with mental health support when they need it: https://here2talk.ca/home

To find community-based mental health services for children, youth and families through the Ministry of Children and Family Development:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health

To find new trauma-informed practice resources for educators:
https://mytrainingbc.ca/traumainformedpractice/

A backgrounder follows.

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