A three-day mental health literacy training program offered by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) in collaboration with four school divisions, with support from the Royal University Hospital Foundation (RUHF), will help 50 teachers and staff from Saskatoon area better identify when a teenager may require mental health support and to increase collaboration and communication between schools and the mental health system.
“Being able to identify what is normal life stress and when a teenager may require additional health support is important in the early identification and effective treatment of mental health related concerns,” Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Saskatoon, Karyn Kawula said. “This workshop will offer teachers tools they can take back to their classrooms and put to use within their current curriculum to help students become more adept in dealing with pressures they face, while learning about the importance of mental health and wellness.”
The workshop, led by TeenMentalHealth.Org’s Dr. Stan Kutcher, will build capacity in school divisions to implement a resource to accompany current curriculum and the “Go-To” Educator training which complements the Ministry of Education’s existing curricula. Following this training, participants will have the knowledge and tools to further deliver the training to their colleagues.
“Programs like this, when embedded into existing school curriculums, enables increased understanding of mental health problems, mental illnesses and helps decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness,” said Kutcher. “It also gives teachers the necessary literacy to foster positive mental health initiatives in schools, help create safe and supportive environments for their students.”
The training was made possible by the RUHF’s Community Mental Health Endowment Grant as well as with support from the Tori Hanson Fund and Saskatchewan Alliance for Youth Wellbeing’s Healthy Schools and Communities Grant.
“Helping teens improve their mental well-being is a priority for the RUHF, and we are extremely grateful that Tori’s family connected with us following the outpouring of community support in the wake of her death. Her family's wishes were that any donations and funds raised in her memory be used to support teen mental health programming in Saskatoon. We are pleased to support this training to help teachers to be able to better support their students,” CEO of RUHF Arla Gustafson said.
Teachers from Saskatoon Public Schools, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Prairie Spirit School Division and Horizon School Divisions participated in the training, which was held from September 19 to 21. Following the training, teachers will use the resource to accompany the current curricula and deliver to students in classrooms throughout four school divisions. The resource also targets the reduction of stigma and encouraged help-seeking efficacy. Through the reduction of stigma youth will be in a better position to access supports through, family, school supports, and local mental health services.