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Focus on students’ mental health

Focus on students’ mental health

better-pammila-ruthLast month, the SD46 District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) invited parents and community members to Chatelech Secondary School for a Panel on Youth Mental Health, “What’s Up With Our Kids’ Mental Health?”  The panel included nine local power-houses and expert resources for local youth and families.

Vanessa White, SD46 Director of Instruction, shared current research from the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) and McCreary reports which focus on the over-all mental health of our students.

Ursula Hardwick, Davis Bay Elementary Principal, discussed how our schools are trying to take the stigma out of mental health and are using new innovative methods to get students to speak more openly.

Stacia Leech, Roberts Creek Community School & “Mind the Gap”, touched on resources for families, Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness.

Kim Sullivan, Child & Youth Mental Health (Ministry of Child and Family Development) informed us of the services the Ministry provides as well as how to access services and counselling.

Karen Foley, from Sunshine Coast Community Services Society spoke about complex behavioral disorders. She discussed the strategies and resources available.

Next was Dr. Anthony Barale, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Psychiatrist, who outlined the gap between youth and adult psychiatric services on the Sunshine Coast, and how they are bridging that gap.   He is concerned about youth and drug use, stating that marijuana use at a young age is often linked to anxiety and even psychosis.

Frances Ardron, the VCH Addiction Counselor, segued into Youth Addictions, stating how she goes into the schools with a panel of experts for grade 7 drug education:  Marijuana; caffeine; nicotine and other substances.  The summer between grades 7 and 8 is most common for youth to start experimenting with marijuana.

Cayce Laviolette, is an advocate for those who need services, but do not know where to go.  He helps families navigate the system and is generally referred to through the family doctor.

Lastly, Jill Shatford, Parent in Residence from Families Organized for Recognition and Care Equality (FORCE)spoke.  While not a counsellor, she holds monthly gatherings for parents to share stories, discuss concerns and strategies.

Youth Mental Health is a focus of our strategic plan in School district 46.  Look for more mental health information at under the student and parent tabs.

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