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Mental Health support encouraged for BC students

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More than 80,000 children between four and 17 years old have mental health issues.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Less than a week before National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7th, a Vancouver trustee hopes she can convince the provincial government to develop an early intervention strategy for all BC schools.

Lisa Dominato says more than 80,000 children between four and 17 years old have mental health issues.

“In many cases, they will turn to their peers for help or to some of the teaching staff within the schools, so I think it’s time to be looking at things a little bit more holistically. We have pockets of excellence and great things happening, but what I want to see is a strategy that really ensures there’s consistencies.”

Dominato, who chairs Vancouver’s non-profit Kettle Society which supports adults living with mental illness, also has unanimous support from the BC School Trustee Association to lobby Victoria for support.

“We know that schools are critical settings for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention. The earlier we reach kids, the better chance they have of thriving in life. They do better in school–better health outcomes.”

The NPA trustee says it may be too late to have a province-wide program in place this fall, but she’s confident it can happen by September of next year.

Dominato’s motion passed at the BCSTA’s annual general meeting in Richmond on Saturday.

It calls on “the Ministries of Education, Children and Family Development, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health, along with boards of education and stakeholders from the K-12 education sector, to develop a student-centered mental health strategy that will guide and support the delivery of mental health promotion, mental illness prevention and early intervention in BC schools”.

The resolution was endorsed in February by the Vancouver School Board.