WATCH: Mindfulness matters at east end high school

TDSB launches new, 4-year program aimed at making good mental health a part of the classroom

Grade 11 students learn about mindfulness and meditation during class at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts
Photo: James Moore/NEWSTALK 1010

About 20% of Toronto public high school students feel 'down' or sad all the time.

Almost 40 percent are constantly 'under a lot of stress.'

The Toronto District School Board is responding to an eye-opening report on student mental health with a new, 4-year plan to get young people thinking more about how they feel.

They survey of thousands of students showed that 1 in 3 at the high school level loses sleep over stresses like meeting assignment deadlines, studying for exams, and pressure from peers and parents.

The student census was completed in 2012.

Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, near Bloor and Parliament Streets, is leading the way with an optional course that teaches students how to use concentration to deal with emotional and mental stress.

The TDSB hopes it will become a key part of this new initiative.

Officials have put together policies that will make sure teachers and other school staff have the training they need to help a young person going through a crisis and to be aware of the signs that someone is stressed out or depressed.

Courses that teach the technique of mindfulness are being developed through a test program at Rosedale Heights.

Teachers have received training on these mental exercises that emphasize awareness and train the brain to 'live in the moment;' using logic and mental focus to understand and accept emotions like despair, anger, and anxiety.

Cathy Sartory guides her class of Grade 11 students through simple meditation exercises that stop the mind from ruminating on the pressure of getting good marks and making it into top universities.

Students like Shannon and Sophia say the techniques they've learned have made it easier to deal with distress and anxiety...

TDSB Director Donna Quan announced on Tuesday all Board staff will receive mental health awareness training by the end of the school year.

She says while many schools already have local programs that deal with mental health awareness, the Board's 4-year strategy will ensure that the best policies eventually get put in place at schools across the TDSB.

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  1. Angry Bill posted on 01/29/2014 01:36 PM

    This appears to me to be yet another attempt by this society to continue bubble wrapping kids as much as possible. What we wind up with is a 30 year old in the job force, who has "failed" for the first time in his entire life. And we leave him alone to handle it. Does no one at all see anything even remotely wrong with this scenario?

    Kids nowadays never "fail". They get trophies for just showing up. They scribble some lines on a piece of paper, and it gets treated like the Mona Lisa. It's impossible to fail any grade. Parents make sure they never get to take risks at all while growing up, and so they never learn how to take risks. Fast forward to age 30 when they "fail" for the first time in their entire lives. They have no clue how to handle failure, because the bubble wrap they grew up in is no longer there.

    Still think our society and education system is top notch? Chew on this, then... Our western education system has gone from teaching Latin in high school to teaching remedial English in college.

    And parents pushing their kids to go to university, because they think having an expensive arts BA will land them a job? I'm sure it will... flipping burgers.
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