School Safety Report falls short of fully addressing mental health needs of Ontario students

    TORONTO, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - Yesterday's release of the Final Report on
School Safety from the School Community Safety Advisory Panel touched upon the
importance of children's mental health, but missed an opportunity to link the
essential role that early diagnosis and treatment plays in creating positive
school environments, says Glen Newby, President of Children's Mental Health
Ontario (CMHO).
    "One in five Ontario children and youth will struggle with his or her
mental health," said Newby. "That means that nearly 20% of Ontario's students
will cope with depression, anxiety, bullying, vandalism and other mental
health issues. Left untreated, kids in distress can turn to drugs and alcohol,
drop out of school, become violent or withdraw into silence and isolation."
    The School Community Safety Advisory Panel made positive recommendations
including the creation of additional child and youth counsellor and social
worker positions. CMHO also welcomes the suggestion of including
psychologists/psychiatrists in determining the needs of at-risk students.
    This recommendation, however, falls short of insisting that these
services be made available to help students at the first sign of a mental
health issue. Currently, children and youth often end up in crisis before
their needs begin to be addressed.
    Support in the community is already available to help assess and treat
children's mental health needs. CMHO represents over 85 accredited,
government-funded children's mental health centres in Ontario, with over 10
centres serving north Toronto. Across the province, our organizations assist
over 150,000 children and youth.
    Mental health problems can affect any child regardless of age or
circumstance. These centres can provide effective, proven and early treatment
to children and youth so they do not needlessly suffer and become a stress on
their families, schools, peers and the community. Research has shown that
early diagnosis and intervention are critical to providing young people with a
hopeful and healthy future. For more information please visit:

For further information:

For further information: Camille Quenneville, Director of Policy &
Communications, Children's Mental Health Ontario, Tel: (416) 921-2109, ext 32

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