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

Moricetown Mud Bog stuck in a rut for 2018

A busy personal life for organizers means there will be no Moricetown Mud Bog in Witset this year.

Smithers ‘way ahead’ on preparing for pot

Public consultation around town on pot use, dispensing and licensing this summer.

Update on contaminated mine sites program

The report details work done over the past two years to remediate contaminated sites.

Witset shuts down operations at water treatment plant

Members of the Witset community are being asked to reduce water consumption for the time being.

Public’s help sought in finding missing person

Chantelle Simpson’s vehicle was located near Gossen Creek Street

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Summerland issues State of Local Emergency in response to wildfire

Two homes under evacuation order; evacuation alert remains in place as result of wildfire

Most Read