By Melissa McKenna 

This February, the BCSS Youth team and some of the BCSS facilitators completed the Mental Health First Aid – Supporting Youth course. This training was created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada specifically for individuals or organizations that have frequent interactions with children and youth.

Unfortunately, Canada is currently experiencing a youth mental health crisis, and many young people struggle to access the support they need. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year. However, mental health concerns often go unrecognized and untreated, leading to severe consequences like dropping out of school, unemployment, and even suicide. In response to this concern, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has introduced a version of their Mental Health First Aid Training specifically for individuals who work or interact with youth.

The Mental Health First Aid Supporting Youth program provides participants with training on various mental health concerns, including: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance use disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Eating disorders
  • And more.

Participants learn how to identify the warning signs of mental health concerns and crises, how to approach and communicate with a young person who may be experiencing a mental health problem, and how to provide support and connect the youth to appropriate resources. Like physical first aid, this training is focused on providing support for youth until appropriate medical support is found or the crisis is resolved.

Addressing the youth mental health crisis in Canada requires a concerted effort from everyone. We need to work together to improve access to mental health services and resources, reduce stigma, and support young people who are struggling with mental health challenges.

BCSS Youth is in the process of offering more in-person Kids and Teens in Control workshops in addition to our virtual programs. The Mental Health First Aid Supporting Youth program is training that BCSS Youth plans to continue providing to our program facilitators. We will be hiring facilitators in the South Vancouver Island and Northern BC regions so that we can provide more programs throughout the province.  

Interested in joining the BCSS Youth team?

Contact Mary Beth, BCSS Youth Program Manager: 

If you, your organization, or someone you know is interested in receiving Mental Health First Aid training, visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada – Mental Health First Aid website.