Schools frontline for mental health solutions

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson's column on the importance of school-based mental health services.

The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth (SSCCY) is one of nine select standing committees of the legislature, each composed of a majority of Government MLAs and members of the Official Opposition.

It’s up to the BC Liberals whether these committees actual convene to do work of the legislature and I’ve been fortunate enough to sit of two of them that do – finance in the past, and children and youth now.

As deputy chair of the SSCCY, I’m encouraged that all committee members decided to embark on a special investigation around youth mental health services in the province.

The first phase involved presentations by youth, families, service providers and experts. It focused on identifying needs and gaps. Our phase 1 report came out last November and found “the overall system is disjointed and fragmented, and lacking in inter-ministerial coordination and leadership.” We concluded that “there is an urgent need for action to improve mental health services and supports for youth.”

I’m sure those statements ring true for many northern residents.

The SSCCY completed its next phase of public engagement this summer focusing on drafting recommendations. I anticipate we will present those to the legislature this fall.

And, as many families gear up for the new school year, phase 1 observations that school-based services and support for youth are a critical part of improved outcomes comes to mind. We noted “how signs of mental health disorders often manifest in schools, and that a lot of pressure is put on teachers and counsellors to deal with struggling youth.”

So it was a good signal just last week that the University of British Columbia has created a new course in its teacher education program on youth mental health literacy so new teachers will be well versed in the topic and able to identify students needing mental health support and services.

To make a real difference it’s going to take a coordinated effort between ministries, a scaling up of the isolated pockets of good integrated service delivery in BC, and actually addressing lack of services, especially in northern and rural communities.

All of that depends on political leadership and I hope the committee’s recommendation will help spur that on this topic in the Premier’s office.

 

Doug Donaldson is the Opposition MLA for Stikine.

Just Posted

Northwest couples compete at His and Hers golf tournament in Prince Rupert

Kitimat and Smithers couples take home the hardware

100 years since the surrender of Simon Gunanoot

The famed Gitsxan hunter was a fugitive for 13 years

Smithers celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

The day included dancing, singing, a moose call contest and a soapberry ice cream tutorial.

UNBC researcher leads study on cannabis-impaired driving

Dr. Russ Callaghan hypothesizes increased motor vehicle collision injuries among young people

Bestselling Indigenous author enlightens Smithers audience on the Indian Act

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Air Canada flight forced to turn back to YVR on single engine

Airline says planes are designed to fly on one engine, after aircraft suffered engine problem

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Most Read