Crescent School in Toronto has a mentorship program so students have an adult they can turn to if they need help.

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Prior to returning to in-person classes last year, Kirsten Bowles, the junior school counselling department head for Vancouver’s independent West Point Grey Academy, knew her students were going to need additional support.

“Staff education and wellness became one of a few priorities beginning last September,” she says.

Bowles says the training sessions included one for parents, called “mental health and our kids,” and a staff-wide presentation on “mental health literacy.”

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West Point Grey also took the pandemic as an opportunity to expand its CARE (Confident, Authentic, Respectful, Empathetic) program, which teaches students about mental health and wellness starting from junior kindergarten, focusing on a new theme each month. For example, September’s theme is self-awareness, and in the months ahead the students will learn about gratitude, kindness, courage, leadership, and perspective.

“For children, it’s about developing self awareness, which is so important for so many other soft skills and relationships and successes in life,” says Bowles. “To become self aware, to know what one thinks and feels, what one needs, how to express oneself, all of those things start from recognizing thoughts, emotion and impulses.”

As early as 2014, Canadian researchers have been sounding the alarm over the rising volume of children and youth seeking mental health services, and the lack of adequate resources available to support them.

“All of that had been climbing before the pandemic,” says Dr. Stephanie Ameis, a psychiatrist and associate director of the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression at CAMH. “We have definitely seen a huge increase in our wait times because of the number of referrals that we’re getting.”

Crescent School also developed what it calls the STEM 1.0 program, an acronym that stands for Sleep, Think, Eat and Move.

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According to a recent study conducted by Sick Kids, more than 70 per cent of school aged …….

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/featured-reports/article-schools-boost-mental-health-supports-as-in-class-learning-returns/

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