Perspectives

The Alberta Teachers’ Association launches a re-vamped mental health resource for teachers

By Shelley L. Magnusson
October 7, 2016

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as part of the Healthy Minds, Bright Futures partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and Global Television has updated and renamed the mental health resource for teachers. The new Creating a Compassionate Classroom resource (PDF, 4.94 MB), along with the complete overhaul of the CanWeTalk.ca website, is a welcome addition to the resources available for classroom teachers. In addition a new television advertisement is in production and will begin airing on Global TV in November.

What is new in this version?

This version has added information about anxiety disorders, and includes information on oppositional defiant disorders and conduct disorders. As well there is updated information about the earlier onset of some mental health disorders. We have also updated the resource section by directing people to www.canwetalk.ca for the most up-to-date list of resources and lists of community partners and programs. By putting that information on the website we are able to update it as needed.

Why did it need to be updated?

The new version really tackles the idea of mental health as being on a continuum, much like physical health. And much like physical health, everyone has mental health; unfortunately it is often only talked about after someone is diagnosed with a mental illness. We want people to be as free talking about their mental health as they are about their physical health. The new resource approaches the concept of teaching positive mental health and encourages teachers to have open and frank (age appropriate) discussions with their students regarding the stigma surrounding mental health issues. In addition, the former version was very text heavy while in this one, we designed it to be more approachable and less ‘textbook’ like.

Is there a particular target market?

This is for all teachers of all subjects and grade levels.

What kind of response are you getting?

We have been getting a phenomenal response. Teachers like the new format and the information. It is unfortunate that so many teachers are reporting an increase in mental health issues in their students and at a younger and younger age. We stress, in the resource, and in my presentations that teachers are NOT mental health practitioners. This resource helps teachers to recognize some of the early signs and symptoms so that they can advocate for the services their students need.

What are people saying about this version?

Teachers like the new format. They like that the information is up-to-date and that the new website has a complete list of resources for them to use. We will also be posting a new set of lesson plans to assist teachers in talking about mental health issues with their students. The lesson plans can be found at CanWeTalk.ca. Teachers can use these lesson plans at any time during the year or during Mental Health Week (May 1 – 5) and Hats On for Mental Health Day, May 3, 2017.

How do you feel about the response?

It is gratifying to produce a resource that teachers want to use in their classrooms. The Edmonton branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association were great to work with and all the information in the new resource was vetted through them before it went to print. Teachers and locals can also request presentations on the following:


Creating a Compassionate Classroom
booklet (PDF, 4.94 MB)

Creating a Compassionate Classroom

Description: Teachers are concerned about the well-being of children and youth. The Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Canadian Mental Health Association are partnering to promote the mental health of children and youth and to provide support material for teachers dealing with mental health issues. This session will discuss common mental health concerns for children, recommend resources and references, and inform teachers about how they can promote awareness and discourage stigma.

The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

For children, families are a source of learning and love. All too often, however, intimate partner violence can disrupt this family refuge on which children and teens rely for stability, support and nurturing. Children’s exposure to domestic violence is much more common than generally believed. The potential consequences of abuse or exposure to violence as a child are also becoming increasingly evident. Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to suffer from biological, social, emotional and/or cognitive development problems than those who are not. In this session, teachers will learn to recognize the signs of vicarious trauma and receive information on supports available.

A longtime advocate for women’s rights, Shelley Magnusson is a former board member of the Edmonton Women’s Shelter and the Regina Sexual Assault Line. She’s also the former co-ordinator of the University of Regina Women’s Centre. She is an Executive Staff Officer with the ATA.

Publication:
Canadian Teachers’ Federation
2490 Don Reid Drive
Ottawa, ON K1H 1E1
Tel: 613-232-1505
Fax: 613-232-1886
Toll Free: 1-866-283-1505

Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 238,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

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