Everyone Needs a Hand

Did you know that “In any given year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness,” (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2014). January 28, 2014 marks the fourth year of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. It’s an opportunity to start a discussion around mental health issues, reduce the stigma associated with them, and offer support to those who need it. #BellLetsTalk was evident all over social media, especially Twitter. Here are some of the tweets people were sharing:

Being a teacher, we are immersed in classrooms that can be filled with children and adolescents with mental health issues. Some are more obvious than others, but each case is unique in itself. Do you feel that you have the knowledge and training to support these students? If not, what do you do to learn more?

Today, the Toronto School Board pledged to create mental health teams in each school in their district. As report by The Star here are some of the standards that they have pledged to uphold.

Requiring all schools to have a mental health team.
Training and professional development for all school staff on youth mental health.
Increasing the number of schools with programming that raises awareness about the stigma attached to mental health issues.
Increasing the number of partnerships with agencies/charities that provide mental health programming,
Better informing parents about their children’s emotional well-being.

This is such a great step in the right direction to create an awareness among society, but also provide educators with the help and knowledge that they need to be effective in the classroom with all students. I believe as teachers we do our utmost best to ensure inclusion in the classroom, but at times without the background knowledge it can be difficult. Thank you to those who go out of their way to learn more, and thank you to the Toronto School Board for taking this step, leading, and encouraging the rest of country to do so as well.

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