The School Context
According to the policy-oriented paper “Taking Mental Health to School,” published by The Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO in August 2009, “up to one in five children and youth suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder including substance abuse. Many more students experience mental health difficulties that cause significant problems. These disorders and difficulties impose considerable barriers to the normal academic, emotional and social-developmental tasks of childhood and adolescence. Adult mental health disorders frequently onset in adolescence or before. Therefore, treating and coping with these students has significant financial costs to education, health and social service systems.
Mental health and substance abuse issues are recognized as critical for school systems. An international principal survey and our scan of Ontario school boards indicate that educators rank mental health problems as a key issue. A paramount concern is the recognition that mental health disorders and difficulties are closely associated with declining academic performance. Despite the existence of many school-based initiatives to prevent and intervene with students experiencing difficulties, educators acknowledge that current approaches are not dealing with the problems systematically and effectively.”