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More youth mental health supports coming to BC

BC Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Mental Health Minister says the province is developing more resources for youth coping with mental health issues

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – At a time when many students are stressing out about final exams, BC’s Mental Health Minister says more support is coming.

Judy Darcy says starting in September, thousands of grade school kids will have access to extra resources, however details of what those resources will look like have yet to be finalized.

“Our youth and our students certainly are facing enormous challenges,” she said. “We have 84,000 kids who are struggling with a mental health issue of one sort or another and only one in three are getting the support that they need. That’s a failing grade by any measure. We need to do better and we’re going to do better.”

Along with Education Minister Rob Fleming, Darcy co-hosted BC’s first-ever School Community Mental Health Conference in Richmond this week. The two-day event included more than 300 educators, front-line emergency workers, First Nations representatives and mental health experts.

Darcy also spent time with children helping develop new programs.

“They were passionate, determined and we’re listening really hard to what they have to say as we go forward to build a plan for better child and youth mental health, so we’re going to be involving them and other people with lived experience as we build this plan because it needs to meet their needs,” Darcy said.

Numbers provided by the Ministry of Education show 2.3 per cent of all students in BC schools have mental-illness/behaviour designations, a 14 per cent increase since the 2013-14 school year.

Supports currently in B.C. public schools include:

* 3,200 special education resource teachers
* 180 educational psychologists (registered with B.C. Association of School Psychologists)
* 918 school counsellors
* More than 90 additional school counsellors have been hired throughout the province since the beginning of this school year