The World Health Organization denotes October 10th as World Mental Health Day. This year the theme is "young people and mental health in a changing world."
As educators, we interact with young people at a time when they are most vulnerable. In fact, half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.
Young people shouldn't have to suffer alone. There is a growing recognition of the importance of building mental resilience, and coping mechanisms, for youth and adults alike, especially in a world experiencing many challenges.
These are unprecedented times. Here at LRSD, we have a responsibility to facilitate mental health promotion and prevention to help young people thrive. Early intervention could mean the difference between our students leading fulfilling, health lives, or being dragged down into a cycle of mental and physical impairment.
This week, École George-McDowell (EGM) is hosting their fourth annual Positive Mental Health Week. Through activities and awareness raising, they are challenging everyone to highlight the importance of talking about their mental health. They are also emphasizing that students are not alone at EGM, and they are encouraging students and staff alike to look out for each other, ask their peers if they are okay, and listen (not solve).
More broadly speaking, over the past two years, 16 schools from across LRSD volunteered to take part in a Mental Health Promotion Pilot, which was led by a partnership between LRSD's Student Support Services Department, and Mental Health Promotion staff at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). Through that partnership schools assessed what they could do to contribute to the well-being and well-becoming of their students and staff.
At Victor Mager School, staff focused on defining and promoting well-being, such as being active, social, positive, curious, mindful and purposeful. Teachers came together from each grade to create age-appropriate well-being goals for students.
Staff at Island Lakes Community School focused on mindfulness and understanding and promoting self-regulation.
St. George School staff focused on promoting mental health using positive, strength-based Indigenous perspectives to facilitate the well-being of students.
For students that are struggling, they need to know that there are supports available to them at the school-level. Contact your Student Support Services department. They can direct you to various mental health supports. LRSD employs 9 school psychologists and fourteen school social workers that visit schools on a regular basis providing mental health counseling and clinical supports to students.
There is much work to be proud of, both at the school and Divisional level. Let's keep up the good work and continue to look for ways to support our students, and each other, on our journeys of wellness and well-becoming today and throughout the year.
-posted on October 10th, 2018 by Christian Michalik, Acting Superintendent