Mental health and well-being
If you are concerned that you or someone you know is in immediate risk or may hurt themselves, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Last updated: March 30, 2021
Mental well-being or positive mental health impacts how we think, what we feel and the way we act. It also affects how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.
Mental health is deeply influenced by our relationships with friends, family, and our environment. Stresses at school, home, in our communities and beyond can make an impact on our mental health.
We need to take care of our mental health because it's an important part of our overall health.
Feeling anxious or stressed can be a normal part of life. Having these feelings doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong. However, when feelings like stress, anxiety or sadness increase to the point where they are impacting daily life, they can become a mental health concern to be taken seriously, and support should be sought when needed.
Schools in B.C. are helping students build skills and knowledge to support, understand and improve their well-being. It's even a part of the curriculum.
The Mental Health in Schools(MHiS) Strategy (PDF, 13MB) provides a vision and pathway for mental health promotion in the BC K-12 education system.
The strategy takes a system-wide approach to mental health promotion, with a focus on three main elements:
- Compassionate Systems Leadership
- Capacity Building
- Mental Health in the Classroom
The MHiS Strategy has been developed in collaboration with education sector and community partners and will guide our actions and investments in mental health promotion over the coming years. It was guided by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia (PDF) which outlines our approach to mental health and addictions in B.C.
Social-emotional learning is a process that helps us to:
- Develop healthy identities
- Feel and show empathy for others
- Manage emotions
- Set and achieve goals
- Build relationships
- Make responsible and caring decisions
- Process or remember information
Social emotional skills are connected to educational outcomes that are important for success in school and in life, we can all learn and practice these skills.
Many people experience trauma and interpret and respond to their experiences in different ways. Trauma-informed practice promotes:
- Providing inclusive and compassionate learning environments
- Understanding coping strategies
- Supporting independence
- Helping to minimize additional stress or trauma by addressing individual student needs
- Understanding there are reasons (experiences or influences) behind all behaviour, actions or responses
The global COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an extra layer of stress into the lives of BC’s students and this may have created or added to mental health needs.
- COVID-19 Safe Schools
- First Nations Health Authority: Mental Health and Cultural Supports During COVID-19 (PDF)
- First Nations Health Authority: Youth and COVID-19
- Managing COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression
- Open School BC: K-12 Resources (PDF)
- Virtual Mental Health Supports During COVID-19
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is the best source for COVID-19 health information
As a result of the pandemic, we know students, educators, staff and administrators are living with anxiety, stress and other mental health needs.
Government has provided a one-time $5 million investment to support mental health services for students and staff, in addition to existing funding. These funds will allow schools to expand existing programs and introduce new supports to address the mental health needs of students and staff.
In spring 2021, a mental health working group was established with representatives from the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC), primary care, government, Indigenous educators and rights holders, administrative and union groups and other stakeholders in education. The working group is outlining key principles and developing resources to ensure the mental health needs of students and staff are being met.
If someone talks about suicide or shows signs of suicidal behaviour, take it seriously.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know is in immediate risk to hurt themselves, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Know the warning signs of suicide. Pay attention to your suspicions and trust your judgement. If concerned, ask the young person directly about suicide to determine the level of risk they're at – for example, you could ask: “have you ever thought about suicide?” If you are concerned that someone is at high-risk of suicide, don’t leave them alone, remove any means for them to harm themselves, and connect them to crisis services.
- Child and Teen Suicide Prevention
- Crisis Centre BC: Suicide crisis: 1 800 SUICIDE (1 800 784-2433)
- Crisis Centre BC: Mental health issue: 310-6789 (24 hours daily)
- Guide to Working with Specific Groups for Children and Youth at Risk for Suicide
- HealthLink BC: Warning Signs of Suicide in Children and Teens
- Parent Support Services Society of BC
- Preventing Youth Suicide: A Guide for Practitioners
If you have a non-emergency health concern, call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse any time of the day or night.
- Black Youth Helpline 1-833-294-8650 (9 am - 10 pm daily)
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310 (24 hours daily)
- Kids Help Phone Call 1-800-668-6868 Text: 686868 (24 hours daily)
- KUU-US Crisis Line Society 250-723-2040 1-800-KUU-US17 (1800-588-8717) (24 hours daily)
- Mental Health and Substance Use Supports in B.C.
- Métis Crisis Line 1-833-MétisBC (1833-638-4722)
- S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Help Lines Mandarin 604-270-8222 Cantonese 604-270-8233 (10am-10pm daily)
- Trans Lifeline for Crisis (877) 330-6366 (24 hours daily)
- YouthInBC Call 310-6789 (24 hours daily) online chat noon to 1am daily TTY 1-866-872-0113 (24 hours daily)
If you or a friend needs help dealing with a problem
Reach out to an adult and get help.
If you're a family member, teacher or another supportive adult
Talk with young people about mental health. Help them identify their internal and external strengths. Listen and respond with empathy. Don't judge – young people need to feel respected and they need to see that you're taking their problems seriously.
Educate yourself. Learn about mental health and the influences young people might be responding to. Focus on understanding what the young person is experiencing and coping skills rather than looking for a label for what the young person is experiencing. Be prepared to provide answers in a way that's easy to understand. If you don’t know the answer, offer to find it together.
Be an advocate. Support young people to do as much for themselves as possible – help them build connections, access services, and create their own network of support. When necessary, speak up on their behalf.
Ask for help. Don't try to deal with things on your own. Reach out to a crisis centre, counsellor or doctor for support. Get help or show them where they can get help for themselves.
Grief & Loss:
- BC Children’s Hospital: Grief and Loss
- Gone too Soon: Navigating grief and loss as a result of substance use. This resource is best suited for older youth and adults
Mental Health (general resource)
- Bounce Back (ages 15+)
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Doctors of BC: Open Mind
- Fraser Health: Child and youth mental health resources
- HealthLinkBC: Mental and Behavioural Health
- Here to Help
- Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
- Stigma-Free Society
- StopOverdose BC: Mental Health and Substance Use
Suicide Prevention / Life Promotion
- Canadian Mental Health Association: Confident Parents: Thriving Kids
- First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum (grades 6-8)
- Guidelines for Staff Dealing with Traumatic Events (PDF)
- Ministry of Children and Family Development: EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) and EASE at Home (For Parents and Caregivers)
- Preventing Youth Suicide: A Guide for Practitioners (PDF)
- Supporting Children Through Grief – Parent Guidelines (PDF)
- Wisdom2Action: Youth Mental Health Resources
In the governance model for our K-12 education system, local boards of education have authority to determine the delivery of education programs in their schools, including:
- Decisions related to resource allocations
- Human resources
- Specific student services
- Set provincial regulations and policies
- Provide funding
- Monitors student success
We continue to work with school districts and other education partners to facilitate all students' educational success.
The following sites are free curated curriculum repositories for B.C. teachers that tie to the K-12 curriculum: