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The videos displayed above and at the bottom are also available in versions appropriate for older students, as well as in multiple languages. Please check www.surreyschools.ca/mentalhealth/videoresources.
These past two school years have been difficult on students of all ages and taken a toll on mental health. In response, Surrey Schools has developed resources, including two animated videos, that help support students and families with information and guidance about issues surrounding mental health.
"The mental health and well-being of our students is an ongoing priority in our school district," said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education. "These videos not only provide children and teens with crucial information, but help them identify feelings they might be experiencing, assure them their feelings are valid, and encourage them to reach out to someone they trust if they need help managing those feelings."
The first video, titled You Are Not Alone, contains information about the importance of good mental health and how to recognize and manage signs of poor mental health. The video reminds students they don't need to deal with things alone, and to reach out if they are struggling, highlighting the many avenues of support available at school, at home and in the community.
The second video, Coping With Stress & Anxiety, defines healthy stress versus unhealthy stress, and explains ways that the latter can contribute to mental health challenges and physical ailments. It includes tips on how to manage stress and again, urges students to seek assistance if they need it.
There are two versions of each video: one aimed at an elementary student audience, and one targeting upper-intermediate and secondary students – each with age-appropriate language and visuals. Both videos are also available in French, Punjabi, Arabic and Mandarin and all have closed captioning.
"Our goal is to have educators in our district watch these videos with their students and have conversations about mental health," said Larsen. "We know these conversations aren't easy, which is why we developed resources to support schools in facilitating these discussions."
A resource guide that accompanies the videos is available to educators for classrooms use, with suggestions on how to approach topics sensitively and ideas to prompt discussion and learning activities. Associated posters with mental health tips and resources are also available to schools.
Financial support for the video project was provided by the province as part of COVID-19 Rapid Response Team funding committed to school districts each health region. Surrey Schools was the lead in the Fraser Health Region, working closely with the local Medical Health Officer. Because student mental health was identified as a key priority, the team wanted to provide easily accessible resources for students and families to help raise awareness and address needs.
"The events of the past year-and-a-half have taken a toll on students – it's been a tumultuous and often confusing and scary time," said Larsen. "Mental health issues impact all of us, at any age, and we need to end the stigma and normalize conversations around mental health.
"Our children and youth need to know that, indeed, they are not alone."