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.