Over the past few months I’ve had an amazing opportunity to travel the province and work with teachers from across Northern Ontario providing professional learning on the benefits on Mental Health from Physical Activity. The statistics shared by CAMH are startling – “70% of mental health problems and illnesses have their onset during childhood or adolescence.” and ” The first symptoms and onset of major mental health disorders develop during adolescence and early adulthood; however, individuals in this age group are the least likely to access mental health services, with only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receiving them.”
This tells us that the children and youth who need the most supports aren’t getting them. Teachers then become vital in the process – not to diagnose – but to provide support, create a safe learning environment, and to observe children and youth for behaviour changes and warning signs over time.
Another role of the teacher is to break down the stigma and stereotypes associated with Mental Health. We can do this by becoming educated ourselves, challenging those who share information that is not correct, and starting the conversation with our students.