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A new Canadian Mental Health
Association (CMHA) pilot program, which
targets students in Grades 7, 9 and 11, is creating positive discussions about
Five WSD schools are piloting the
CMHA’s MILE 5 program this school year, including Andrew Mynarski V.C. School.
MILE 5 stands for Mental Illness
Literacy Education – 5-Day Program; as the name implies, it is a weeklong
school-based mental health promotion.
Students spend an hour a day over
one week discussing aspects of mental wellness and health with a facilitator
from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“We go through examples and
scenarios students might be experiencing,” said Taylor Demetrioff, the CMHA
Youth Mental Health Promotion Worker who is visiting the pilot schools. “When
we talk about mental health, it’s something we all have. There are ways we can
take care of it or make it worse. And we can seek help for it if it is getting
“This is a very comprehensive program,”
said Andrew Mynarski Guidance Counsellor Meghan Clements. “It follows a process
that starts with understanding what mental health and wellness is, and moving
away from the stigma of talking about it.”
Cutline: Andrew Mynarski VC Guidance Counsellor Meghan Clements and the Canadian Mental Health Association's Taylor Demetrioff.
An important part of the program is
discussing with students the stereotypes and misconceptions of what a person
with a mental health issue acts and looks like.
Students are then able to meet with
people who have suffered from depression, anxiety and other issues in their
childhood. The speakers are all trained
over 10 weeks through the CMHA.
“These are people who have gone
through their own mental health journey,” Ms. Clements said. “I’ve had the
opportunity to sit in on the presentations and they are pretty powerful to
watch, not only with the story that person is sharing, but how the students
respond. It allowed students to see a face and let them know that mental health
issues can affect anyone.”
Mr. Demetrioff said the program has
“Increasing help-seeking behavior
is a key goal. We definitely want kids reaching out if they are struggling with
anything,” he said. “Another is breaking down stigma, and showing students that
regardless of the mental health concern, you should be able to talk to someone
about it. It’s no different than breaking your arm. You still need to get
The program also shares mental
health strategies and resources that students can access in times of need. This
includes stresshacks.ca , a mental health website aimed at assisting youth and
families and providing access to further information and resources. The site has
a “Need Help Now” button that links to a list of 24-hour crisis lines in
“There’s a geo-locator that kind of
works like Google Maps—no matter where you are in Manitoba, it will show the
closest resources to you,” Mr. Demetrioff said.
Ms. Clement said that the program
offered a message of hope for people struggling with mental health issues.
“There’s a lot of services out
there and it can take time, but you can live a normal life,” she said. “It’s
important for students to hear that.
“We feel lucky and honoured to have
this opportunity. I’ve had amazing feedback from students and teachers.”