Mental health and well-being

erase stigma embrace understanding

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 Ministry of Education and Child Care Decision-Making Tool: Supporting Educators in Selecting Mental Health and Substance Use Resources (PDF) was developed as an optional toolkit to support educators to identify appropriate, effective mental health and substance use resources for their learners. This tool aligns with the co-governance model for the B.C. K-12 education system, Learning Resources Policy, curriculum, First Peoples Principles of Learning, and the Mental Health in Schools (MHiS) Strategy.

Boards of Education are responsible for setting policies with respect to the use of learning resources. Mental health and substance use learning resources must align with local policies and the B.C. curriculum, be age-appropriate, and selected for use to support the delivery of a specific lesson, activity, or topic.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care is supporting the implementation of Integrated Child and Youth (ICY) Teams. ICY Teams are getting started in B.C. and are a shift in community-based child and youth mental health and substance use services. Team members work together in an integrated way to provide support and services to children, youth and families. Each ICY Team supports young people within a school district, who may attend private, public, First Nations schools or who do not attend school.

ICY Teams are currently operating in five school districts (Coast Mountains – 82; Comox Valley – 71; Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows – 42; Okanagan-Similkameen – 53; Richmond – 38) and new ICY Teams are being implemented in another seven school districts (Fraser-Cascade – 78; Kootenay-Columbia – 20; Mission – 75; Nanaimo-Ladysmith – 68; North Okanagan-Shuswap – 83; Pacific Rim – 70; Powell River – 47).

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.

In early 2022, the Ministry partnered with representatives from the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) and the Federation of Independent School Associations in British Columbia (FISA BC) to develop resources that support mental health and well-being in all learning environments. To find these resources, see Teaching about mental health in our resources section below.

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



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

The Ministry:

  • Sets provincial regulations and policies
  • Provides funding
  • Monitors student success

The Ministry continues to work with school districts, independent schools and other education partners to facilitate all students’ success.

The following sites are free curated curriculum repositories for B.C. teachers that tie to the K-12 curriculum:

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 outlined key principles and developed resources to ensure the mental health needs of students and staff are being met. 

The Ministry partnered with representatives from public and independent schools to develop the following resources that support mental health and well-being in all learning environments:

  1. Supports for Mental Health and Well-being in Schools
    Supports for Mental Health and Well-being in Schools (PDF) (français) builds on the Key Principles and Strategies for K-12 Mental Health Promotion in Schools (PDF) to clarify how the Key Principles (Cultural Responsiveness and Humility, Proportionate Responses and Supports, Trauma-Informed Practices, and Strengths-Based Approaches) support mental health and well-being in BC schools. 
  2. Integrating the Key Principles
    Integrating the Key Principles (PDF) (français) is an infographic that provides a quick-start guide to integrating the four Key Principles(PDF) into our provincial practice—regardless of your role within the education system. It illustrates that we can start by reflecting on how we show up, including our connection to interpersonal and systemic influences and resources, and offers guiding questions to support this practice. This infographic is also available as a poster (PDF) (français).
  3. CampFIRE of Learning
    CampFIRE of Learning (PDF) (français) is an infographic that illustrates what is needed to create conditions for learning spaces that are Functional, Instructional, Relational, and Engaging. Using a campfire as a metaphor, it demonstrates the role of social-emotional learning in our education system. This infographic is also available as a poster (PDF) (français).


 Mental Health in Schools Conference