Home » Policy Documents » Update on the Nova Scotia Mental Health Curriculum

Update on the Nova Scotia Mental Health Curriculum

In a previous post, I reviewed the resource Mental Health & High School Curriculum Guide (2015) as an effective way for educators to teach mental health in schools. Upon contact with Amy Mackay, assistant of Stan Kutcher (main author of The Guide and founder of www.teenmentalhealth.org), I was able to research into the effectiveness of The Guide in secondary schools. The main studies were conducted in high schools in both Nova Scotia and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), assessing students’ mental health knowledge and attitudes before the implementation of the curriculum, afterwards, and at a two-month follow-up. The results showed significant improvement in not only students’ mental health knowledge and attitudes, but also in those of educators (Mcluckie, Kutcher, Wei, & Weaver, 2014; Kutcher & Wei, 2014; Kutcher, Wei, & Morgan, 2015). The Guide was implemented as a regular part of grade 9 health classes; therefore there was no need for any extra time out of the school day or extra costs. The studies showed that students’ attitudes towards mental health were more positive after implementation of The Guide; meaning that there was a reduced stigma around people with mental illnesses, causes of them, and around help seeking and treatment (Kutcher, Wei, & Morgan, 2015, p.582). Therefore, these studies show that The Guide is an effective resource in teaching students about mental health as well as reducing stigma. An idea then, would be to have this curriculum distributed throughout Canada as the required resource for teaching the mental health portion of the health curriculum. This resource was tested in grade 9 classes; however, I believe that it could be used as early as grade 7, where mental health topics begin to appear in the curriculum. Until then, students could learn about general well-being as it relates to mindfulness, healthy practices, meditation, and stress, all of which are touched on in the current curriculum, but should be given more of a focus given the challenges young students face on a daily basis.

References*

Kutcher, S., Wei, Y., & Morgan, C. (2015). “Successful Application of a Mental Health Curriculum Resource by Usual Classroom Teachers in Significantly and Sustainably Improving Student Mental Health Literacy.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 60(12), 580-586.

Kutcher, S. & Wei, Y. (2014). “School Mental Health Literacy: A national curriculum guide shows promising results.” Education Canada, 54(2), 22-25.

Mcluckie, A., Kutcher, S., & Wei, Y., & Weaver C. (2014). “Sustained improvement in students’ mental health literacy with use of a mental health curriculum in Canadian schools.” BMC Psychiatry, 14:379.

*Note: these articles were sent to me directly, but they are readily available online.

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