The mental wellness series from Youth Mental Health Canada is something every young person should have. Like a daily fitness routine, the workbooks provide practices and action steps that can help build the mental muscle of resilience for when hard times hit. They also help youth focus on building a life worth living while also putting a personal safety plan in place for when they are challenged by what life throws their way. The tools and resources embodied in these workbooks are best practices in helping youth build the emotional intelligence they will need to survive and thrive now and in the years ahead,”

-Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, President United Suicide Survivors International and Board Member of American Association of Suicidology.  (www.SallySpencerThomas.com).

“As rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among our youth increase, we need creative and approachable solutions. Stigma and lack of awareness are major barriers to getting young people who struggle with mental health differences the help that they need. With this impressive set of resources, Sheryl Boswell (YMHC) breaks down these barriers and offers engaging, evidence-informed mental health resources. The resources developed by YMHC will allow countless young people and their families to learn strategies that enhance overall wellness and make it easier for educators to tackle tough but increasingly essential topics.”

“They are an absolute treasure trove of coping, self-care, and mental health awareness tools that Sheryl Boswell should be very proud of. She has such a knack for taking key concepts and making them come alive for those who stand most to benefit. Thank you for what you do!”

-Dr. John Ackerman, Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research (CSPR) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He directs community, school, and hospital efforts to educate others about the risks and warning signs of pediatric suicide.

This series of youth mental wellness resources provides a wealth of practical tools for getting through hard times. I wish that I would have had these books when I was in school.”

-Dr. Ursula Whiteside, licensed clinical psychologist, CEO of NowMattersNow.org and Clinical Faculty at the University of Washington

Mental wellness is central to ensuring a student has every opportunity to access an education. Addressing a student’s mental health and social emotional needs leads to better outcomes.

It is our aim to ensure that every young person has a path to success through support, mental health and wellness awareness and education and skills development in building sources of strength.

Creating individual and community sources of strength is an important preventative measure in mental health. It’s a way to combat social isolation, develop connection and community and strengthen individual and community resources, skills and strategies so that we are stronger together.

Every tool and resource that we have created infuses international best practices in mental health, including the incorporation of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and Social-Emotional Learning; evidence-based, effective tools for strength and change.

There is solid research that supports the need for essential social-emotional learning and skills; foundational skills for school, work and life. These skills lay the groundwork for academic and personal success and positive mental health. (source:  Weissberg, Durlak, Domitrovich and Gullota, 2016). Social-emotional learning has had a significant impact on mental health by reducing emotional distress and improving self-esteem and personal relationships. (source: Taylor, Uberle, Durlak and Weissberg, 2011).

  • Provide tools for students to learn skills in stress management, self-advocacy, resilience and self-care
  • Provide relief from stress and anxiety
  • Normalize the conversation about mental health by supporting the wellness of all students
  • Increase compassion for students with mental health challenges and disabilities
  • Provide compassionate tools to support self and others who are struggling with their mental health
  • Be an aid in managing the difficult emotions that may come with school, life and mental health challenges. The goal of the tools is to help youth and young adults to improve emotional regulation, build resilience, and increase (and destigmatize) help-seeking.
  • Increase awareness of protective factors that influence good mental health and wellness: build sources of strength
  • a community building, health, safety and wellness initiative
  • a wellness model demonstrating commitment to the health and well-being of all youth,
  • programs that inspire and encourage hope, sharing, creativity and community and
  • programs that encourage resource, skills and information sharing to decrease issues of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and isolation.
  • and supporting the messages that “you are not alone”, “mental health belongs to all of us” and “it takes a village” by taking action on suicide prevention and youth suicides
  • peer to peer support

The Youth Mental Wellness Tool Kit is not just for the “one in four” or “one in five”. It is for everyone. The toolkit is for anyone feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the pressures of school, work and life.

“Focusing on child and adolescent mental health and wellness promotion, literacy and education has countless documented benefits. Early signs of mental disorders frequently appeal in adolescence yet they are often undiagnosed and go untreated. Young people with mental disorders are at great risk for dropping out of school, ending up in jail and of not being fully functioning members of society in adulthood.” The loss of education, employment potential and often life due to mental health issues requires innovative approaches using youth mental health best practices with people who have lived experience of mental health leading and directing programming models and plans. Health equity is a challenge for everyone with mental health issues.

Responding to the health needs of all students and incorporating needs-based approaches that involve intersectionality of issues is integral to effective health programs and resources.

http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/pub_adol_en.pdf

The Executive Director of YMHC, Sheryl Boswell, has been an educator in Canada and Africa for many years. She has taught elementary to post-secondary and adult education students, developed curricula, materials and handbooks for Special Education, Career Education, Life Skills, Mental Health and Wellness Education, and English as a Second Language. She is a suicide loss survivor and an expert on child and youth mental health issues. YMHC is a member of the American Association of Suicidology, the Impacted Family and Friends Committee, Social Media Team and the Youth Suicide Prevention Committee.