Mental health education can start as early as kindergarten

February 16, 2021

Should mental health be taught in school? Yes, according to Charlotte Waddell, the director the Children’s Health Policy Centre, speaking in a recent interview with the Tyee.

Waddell said that anxiety — what it is and how to deal with it — would be a highly appropriate topic for all students from kindergarten to high school. “Anxiety would be a fantastic teaching module — for example, the physiological reactions that everybody has experienced, that are in some ways evolutionary and protective when there’s a threat.”

“Then you couple that with: What are healthy responses for managing anxiety? How do you know when it starts to tip into something that’s not as helpful for you?” Waddell said.

But Waddell also noted that only 44 per cent of young people experiencing a mental disorder in B.C. are getting access to treatment. And we wouldn’t accept such low treatment numbers for illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. So mental healthcare for young people has a long way to go.

As well, COVID is likely to lead to increases in anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress among youth who’ve been quarantined or isolated. This makes dealing with questions relating to mental health even more urgent, she says.

For details of the Centre’s report on COVID to the B.C. Representative of Children and Youth, see here.

Read the whole story on mental health education here.