Having easy access to accurate information about mental health is essential for students. Although mental illness may impact 1 in 5 young people, the stigma that surrounds mental health, addictions and suicide creates monumental barriers for youth who may need help. Fortunately, teachers have an ideal opportunity to address mental wellbeing in their classrooms and provide students with reliable and meaningful mental health education.

How Can Teachers Help?

  • Recognize and accept a mental illness as a medical condition
  • Include a trained mental health professional or counselor on staff to assist students and their families
  • Create a mentally healthy school culture without stigma or judgment
  • Teach mental health exercises as often as physical health exercis
  • Offer a safe, supervised location for students to go when they are struggling with mental wellness. Allow them to express how they are thinking and feeling

How Can CMHA Calgary Help in Schools?

CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART (Youth Supporting Mental Health And Resiliency Together), has been under programmatic redevelopment, to ensure that we are delivering the right supports in schools based on the changing concerns of youth in our community.

As such, we are pleased to announce an expanded student engagement initiative, launching September 2017.
Think of youth engagement as a paradigm within your community where everyone – especially adults – thinks of, speaks of and involves youth in the same meaningful ways. The new initiative has been designed to provide youth with the tools and knowledge to effectively support their own mental wellness, while empowering them to create school-wide capacity and lead unique campaigns amongst their peers.

This new initiative includes optional programs such as:

  • A CMHA Education Specialist, in conjunction with the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, working in your school to guide the development and implementation of youth-led, mental health capacity building campaigns
  • CMHA’s annual YouthSMART Youth Mental Health Summit, October 19, 2017
  • CMHA’s Suicide Awareness learning session, facilitated face-to-face in schools
  • Living Life to the Full, an 8 hour program for youth based on cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Community Helpers, a 10 hour peer training program for your school’s natural helpers
  • Ongoing support and training opportunities throughout the academic school year, for both teachers and students

We would like to invite your school to take part in the YouthSMART initiative, free of cost. In order to participate, a formal commitment must be made by school administration. This commitment would require:

  • A teacher or guidance counsellor, designated by administration, working with students on the initiative throughout the year
  • Attendance of designated teacher at two short CMHA training sessions, during or outside of school hours
  • Attendance of designated teacher, and up to 8 student ambassadors at a full day Youth Mental Health Summit, October 2017, and two half day touch points, November 2017, and February 2018
  • Time and resources for designated teacher and ambassador students to design and implement various school-wide mental health week activities, May 2018

More information about our program is available at www.youthsmart.ca

Additionally, to understand more about youth engagement please check out this video: What Is Youth Engagement?

If your school is interested in participating in the YouthSMART initiative for the 2017-2018 school year or would like more information in regards to teacher education or sessions in schools, please contact [email protected].


“Considering our duties as educators and adults in society who are responsible for helping to guide, inform, and prepare young adults, I certainly believe that the work Canadian Mental Health does with youth is of value. Having specialized individuals visit classrooms provides rich information that teachers may not know, or have access to, and provides students with a sense of authenticity around the issues. In addition, as specialists presenters have consistently provided in depth information which creates a sense of connectedness to real life situations that students appreciate and respond well to.”-Calgary Teacher

“The Canada Mental Health Association has made a tremendous impact in the education of our students. Our students are faced with so much contradicting information about mental health that having CMHA come in and provide the appropriate materials to our students is essential. The range of topics that are covered is diverse and each student has the capacity to walk away with valuable life changing information.”-Calgary Teacher