By Derick Deonarain
The Toronto District School Board announced a new mental health initiative on Tuesday after results from a 2011 student census showed young people scored low in questions that pertained to social and emotional health.
The study, which polled more than 100,000 students across the TDSB, found that 73 per cent of students between grades 9-12 worry about their future.
Over a third of those students reported they were under a lot of stress and were nervous or anxious “often” or “all of the time.”
The new plan will implement commitments to professionally training all school staff on mental health.
All schools will also establish mental health teams that will help students and increase the number of schools with anti-stigma campaigns.
Some schools across the board have already taken the initiative of implementing their own mental-health support system.
“It’s something that was needed and something that we’ve done here are Kipling Collegiate Institute for the last two years,” said Jennifer MacKay, a TDSB Guidance Counsellor at west end high school Kipling C.I.
She said that the school decided to take the lead with mental health initiatives because more and more students were approaching her with those kinds of problems.
MacKay said the response has been great.
‘More open to talk’
“It’s made students feel better about coming down for help and made them more open to talk about their problems,” she said. “It sort of took away the stigma, where as before students didn’t want to come down and admit there was a problem at all.”
“I think it’s great that now schools are starting to get on board and understand that we need to be more proactive than reactive with mental health,” said Jaspreet Dhindsa, a Humber College counsellor. “I’m optimistic.”
Arabi Rajeswaran, a community youth leader in Rexdale echoed Dhindsa’s sentiment and said “the TDSB’s plans are good news for students and staff because now they’ll be able to identify problems earlier and provide the right help before a mental health issue gets worse.”