By Colt Sirchich Fernandes
Have you seen advertisements for your school's mental health resources? 70% of students at Harbord Collegiate Institute who participated in a mental health survey have not seen any form of advertisement for the school's mental health resources. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-19. In Canada, 11 people die every single day because of suicide. This begs the question: are we doing enough? Are schools providing enough resources for students?
Grade 9 students at Harbord Collegiate Institute were asked if they believe that the school has enough mental health resources. 50% of the respondents either said no or were undecided.
When students were asked what resources they think the school should provide in regards to student mental health, most of them wanted some sort of resource where it was less intimidating and they could stay anonymous. Beatrice Hilliges, a Grade 9 student, said, “I think they should have less intimidating/more approachable resources and more approachable because there could be a lot of shame when it comes to talking about mental health.”
Another Grade 9 student, Madison Cheung, said, “Maybe something where students can confide in a guidance counselor to get advice, but stay anonymous. I think it might be easier for students to open up about their feelings and problems without talking in person, especially for those with anxiety or worrying about being recognized.’’
It’s clear that students want a more approachable resource. Students are becoming more and more stressed due to their overload of school work and this stress is impacting their mental health. After the high rates of depression and suicide for students, are schools doing enough? Student Robyn Erwin said, “No, the school’s not doing anything.’’
The school already does have some mental health resources. The school provides 3 guidance counselors as well as a Child and Youth Worker. Some students have reported seeing school infographics and health advertisements from the school. Marina Scherman, a grade 9 student said, “I think it's great they offer child and youth workers.’’ Beatrice Hillges said, “They post a lot of announcements and resources on the guidance info hub on Google Classroom.’’
After conducting the survey it was found that the majority of Grade 9 students at Harbord Collegiate Institute believe that the school does not provide enough mental health resources and does not advertise enough the current resources that are available to students. Schools need to be proactive and advertise resources for mental health support before students think about doing anything related to self-harm and not after a major incident occurs. Schools and educators need to make it clear that there is support for students in need and that they are not alone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health setback, contact any of the resources below.
Kids Help Phone
Free, anonymous and confidential professional phone counseling and online counseling, available 24/7 for kids and youth 20 years of age and younger.
Ontario’s Drug and Alcohol Helpline
Call 1-800-565-8603 for free, anonymous and confidential health services information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can use chat or email (visit the website to connect) or search the directory of services online to find youth programs across Ontario.
Good2Talk is a free, confidential and anonymous helpline providing professional counseling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to post-secondary students in Ontario.
Resources Provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
If you are in crisis, Talk Suicide help is available 24/7 at 1 833 456 4566.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.