Students often turn to teachers, guidance counsellors, school psychologists or social workers for help when dealing with social and emotional issues at school.
Training school staff to identify mental health problems will help connect students to the supports they need.
"Young people with mental illness are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence," said Dr. Stan Kutcher, Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre, and director World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, Dalhousie University.
"Early identification, as well as social and educational support, can substantially improve outcomes. Therefore, it's important for the school staff that students naturally go to for help to be able to identify the signs of mental health problems."
As part of Speak Up, the government's action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying behaviour, the province is working with Dr. Kutcher to provide his Go-To training program for educators to learn how to recognize mental health issues.
Go-To educators can identify students with a high likelihood of having a mental disorder, link the student to appropriate supports, and provide on-going help. While they do not diagnose students, Go-To educators are a link to health and mental health providers and be a contact for parents.
About 65 guidance counsellors, school psychologists, mental health clinicians, SchoolsPlus staff, and social workers will be trained as Go-To educators. Using a train-the-trainer model, participants will teach others in schools across the province. The goal is to have about five trainers in each school board with about two Go-To educators in every school.
"Students come to us with lots of problems and our ability to identify the root cause quickly, be it a mental health issue or perhaps bullying, can ensure they get the support they need," said Delores Boudreau, guidance counsellor, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial. "I look forward to taking this learning back to my board. It will certainly build greater capacity in our schools to help students facing mental health issues."
Speak Up outlines more than 40 actions to support a community-wide response involving families, schools, teachers, communities, police, health-care providers and several government departments.
For more information on the province's Speak Up action plan, visit www.ednet.ns.ca
FOR BROADCAST USE:
As part of Speak Up, the government's action plan to address
bullying and cyberbullying behaviour, the province is working
with Dr. Stan Kutcher, the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent
Mental Health for Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre
to provide Go-To training for educators to learn how to recognize
mental health issues in schools.
Dr. Kutcher says it's important for school staff students
go to for help to be able to identify the signs of mental health
School staff trained to identify mental health problems can
help connect students quickly with the supports they need.
Media Contacts: Chad Lucas
Department of Education
Sun Life Financial Adolescent Mental Health Chair Dalhousie University/IWK Health Centre