Teachers now trained to help students understand mental health

(From left) Karen Milligan, Norah Pendergast, Minister Jordan Brown, Dr. Stan Kutcher, and Andrea Garland

Strengthening mental health services -

Island students will soon get more help to understand and improve their own mental health.

More than 30 Island educators received master training this week in mental health literacy and how to deliver a new provincial mental health curriculum to students. Developed and taught by renowned adolescent mental health expert Dr. Stan Kutcher, the curriculum is used in many Canadian provinces and countries and will be rolled out in Island schools in 2018-2019.

“Mental health literacy is the foundation for all mental health improvements because it helps us to understand the difference between the normal stresses of life and when we should seek help for a mental health issue,” Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown said.

“When we build mental health literacy in our schools, we have much more opportunity to support student well-being and achievement, and to prevent and reduce mental health issues that can escalate in later life.”

Those trained by Dr. Kutcher this week in Summerside included 28 educators and student well-being team members, plus two community mental health experts from the Canadian Mental Health Association and Health PEI.

Dr. Kutcher’s curriculum has been scientifically shown to improve mental health related outcomes for students and also for their teachers. He says more than 70 percent of mental health problems are diagnosed during the period from adolescence to age 25, a time when many people are in school.

“Schools are the best place to address literacy because the students and teaching resources are already in place and once the capacity is built into the school system, it stays there,” he said. “Island educators are very enthusiastic about this opportunity to increase their knowledge of mental health and share it will their colleagues and students, as well as their family and friends.”

The new master trainers can now go back to their families of schools and train their fellow teachers and staff. A supporting online program is available for teachers to increase their own mental health literacy and learn more about how to apply the web-based, modular mental health curriculum resource in grades 7 to 10.

Media contact:
Jean Doherty



Dr. Stan Kutcher is the Sun Life Financial chair in adolescent mental health and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in mental health policy and training at Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre.

He is a expert in adolescent mental health and leader in mental health research, advocacy, training, and policy, and has been involved in mental health work in over 20 countries.

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