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(Canada) Big increase in youth mental health issues; schools turn to mediation to keep kids calm

Nov 12, 2018, Winnipeg Free Press: Reading, writing and mindfulness As kids struggle with problems of peer pressure, bullying and social anxiety, Winnipeg schools are exploring new ways to promote positive mental health … Macfarlane Penner believes mindfulness should be a "natural part of taking care of yourself," like brushing your teeth or getting enough sleep. "It gets kids calmer and more focused," she says. "Kids are busy; we just don’t see it as the same busy as us. Sometimes what they didn’t have time for might have been something important to them, so let’s just slow down and take a moment." The Winnipeg School Division has been incorporating mindfulness into their daily teachings since 2013. After conducting a divisional survey they noticed the number of students identifying symptoms of anxiety and depression were above Canadian norms. Jón Olafson has been running the division’s mental health strategic plan, Healthy Minds, for the last four years. He says mindfulness was introduced so students could learn to self-regulate and cope with their emotions…. Six to eight weeks after mindfulness was adopted in all of the division’s schools, testing showed increased senses of calm and safety in classrooms, according to Olafson. … Over 1,200 Manitoba kids were hospitalized for mental health issues between 2016 and 2017, according to a report released by Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. That’s a 55 per cent increase for those aged five to 24 over the last decade. In Canada, an estimated 10 to 20 per cent of children are affected by a mental illness or disorder, according to Youth Mental Health Canada. They are also among the highest risk populations for suicide, and only one out of five Canadian children who need mental health services receive them. … Mikayla admits to sometimes feeling stressed at school, and says mindfulness has helped. "It can really help you calm down and learn better," she says. Sargent Park School guidance counsellor Cristina Almeida believes anxiety levels are higher than when she was in school. … Mandatory school curriculums address mental health at early, middle and senior years throughout a variety of subject areas. The provincial health initiative, Healthy Schools, uses workshops, activities and lesson plans to promote mental well-being in classrooms. … Mindfulness exercises help kids calm and focus themselves, says teacher Sue Macfarlane Penner…. Louis Riel School Division partnered with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority three years ago to promote mental health education in all schools. "We have clinicians, school psychologists and social workers teaching in the classroom about understanding the difference between well-being and mental illness," Murray says. …
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