Mental health and well-being

erase stigma embrace understanding

Last updated: October 18, 2021

mental health information


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.

Mental health literacy is the knowledge and understanding of how to:

  • Develop and maintain mental well-being
  • Identify risk factors and signs of mental health challenges
  • Access help when needed
  • Reduce stigma around the topic of mental health

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
  • Communicate

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


COVID-19 and mental health


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.

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.

take action

Take action

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.

If you have a non-emergency health concern, call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse any time of the day or night.

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.

mental health resources




Eating Disorders:

Grief & Loss:

Mental Health (general resource)


Suicide Prevention / Life Promotion

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

While we:

  • 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:


  Mental Health in Schools Conference videos