Dear Schools,

While this school year (2020 – 2021) may look different, Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region recognizes that school-based mental health supports are more important than ever. As such, we are excited to invite your school to schedule YouthSMART learning opportunities for your students.

What is YouthSMART?

CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART Initiative (Youth Supporting Mental Health and Resiliency Together) integrates mental health learning opportunities in local junior and senior high schools. Operating for over a decade, and reaching close to 25,000 students each year, YouthSMART provides mental health education, proven to generate an awareness of mental health topics, combat stigma, and encourage appropriate help seeking behaviours amongst Calgary and area youth.

How is the YouthSMART Initiative being offering this year?

Although we are unable to host our annual Youth Summit this year, YouthSMART is now offering our popular menu of mental health learning sessions and engagement opportunities for all junior and senior high classes to select from. All sessions are age-appropriate, interactive, and flexible between virtual delivery and in-person facilitation. *In-person speakers will maintain all current Alberta Health orders.  

  • Stress Management and Healthy Coping – Understanding stress is foundational in maintaining personal health and wellness. This interactive learning session provides an overview of what the stress response is, and how it affects the body and mind. Students will develop an awareness of their own particular stressors, and how to cope with stress in healthy ways. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)
  • Mental Health Awareness – This learning session breaks down common misconceptions surrounding mental health and mental illnesses and promotes a preventative approach to wellness. Students gain a comprehensive introduction to stigma, the common warning signs for mental health concerns, and the resources available for help. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)
  • Skills for Being There – There is no perfect formula for helping someone, but you can strengthen your supportive skills. This learning session outlines how students might recognize if someone is in distress, while improving their listening, communication, and helping abilities. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)
  • Suicide Prevention – This learning session provides a compassionate and informative discussion around preventing suicide, as it seeks to dispel myths, outline warning signs, and connect youth to professional resources. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)
  • Community Helpers – Offered in partnership with Alberta Health Services, the Community Helpers training follows a peer support model, and understands that every school-community has natural helpers willing to support their peers in times of need. Through this training youth are able to build mental health equity in their school or community by understanding common mental health language, identifying levels of concern, connecting to resources, and utilizing appropriate self-care techniques. (Typically 8 hours of training, delivered to individual classes or nominated students, inside or outside of class time)
  • SMART Schools Challenge – A small group of school identified mental health ambassadors or “SMART Leaders” work together, with teacher support to plan awareness activities or campaigns unique to their own schools. SMART Leaders are provided with toolkits, as well as personalized support from qualified CMHA staff to help them create fun, engaging campaigns to bring the mental health and anti-stigma message to their peers. (Ongoing throughout the year, participating schools work at their own pace)

How can my school schedule YouthSMART learning opportunities?

YouthSMART learning opportunities are available, free of cost to all junior and senior high school classes for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools may book multiple sessions for classes throughout the year, however, capacity is limited, and bookings are confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact us by e-mail at [email protected] if you have any questions, or to schedule opportunities for your classroom. YouthSMART looks forward to working in your school (or virtually) this year!