Not all youth have the opportunity to sit at a desk and learn from a teacher.
For some children, they will never have the chance to receive an education.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 258 million children and youth do not attend school, and 617 million children and adolescents around the world cannot read or do basic math.¹
Although school may be tough at times for different reasons, it really is an experience that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but appreciated.
Effects of Education Interruption
Now with the COVID-19 pandemic interfering with even more children from developing their learning—youth mental health is becoming a much bigger issue.
In particular, school closures have created new types of stressors for students across Canada including:
- Eliminating school as a safe space
- Decreased social and physical activity with the cancellation of school sports and extra-curricular activities
- Lack of access to nutritional school lunches provided by the schools
- Interrupted learning
One, or all of these stressors can cause increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
As students return to in-person learning, those negative feelings don’t suddenly fade away, they need to be addressed. That is why teaching youth about mental health, especially as children and young teens, is the key to nurturing their mental well-being while building resiliency.
Importance of Mental Health Education
Ashley, one of our YouthSMART team members, says the childhood and teen years are critical times in the promotion of life-long emotional wellness.
“Many mental health concerns first begin during adolescence. For children and youth, in particular, lack of awareness, social stigma, and inaccurate information surrounding mental health can create monumental barriers in building resiliency, or finding appropriate supports.”
“The primary goal of mental health education is to allow youth to build skills, realize their potential, cope with normal stresses of life, and be positively involved in their community.”
– YouthSMART Team
Mental health education teaches young people that mental health is more than just having or not having a mental illness. It involves how you feel, think, act, and interact with the world. Even when you’re lacking traditional subjects in school, you can always grow and develop your mental health.
“Mental health education provides a foundational understanding that good mental health is not about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a perfect life, but about living well and feeling capable despite challenges. Each of our individual paths to mental health will be unique, as we all have our own goals, our own struggles, our own talents, and our own supports,” said Ashley.
For youth-related mental health resources, please refer to the following list:
- Busting Stress: Stress Management Lesson Plans (Grade 7 – 12)
- Building Your Awesome…Tips For Stress Management
- Building Your Awesome…Tips For Mindfulness
- Student Wellness Reflection
- YouthSMART Toolkit
You can also refer to external resources such as:
¹International Day of Education, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, retrieved January 6, 2022, https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/educationday
You are not alone. There is help.
If you cannot find someone you trust who is willing to support you, dial a crisis line right away at 403-266-HELP (4357) All crisis lines are confidential.