About Brains Beyond Borders
By the year 2020 the World Health Organization predicts depression will be the most common and disabling illness throughout the world, with early onset occurring primarily in adolescence and early adulthood. Mental health directly influences children's ability to participate in and benefit from education. Unresolved mental health problems lead to learning problems, decreased academic performance, and more truancy, dropout, and special education referrals. School policy makers and practitioners recognize that social and emotional health problems must be addressed in order for students to learn and perform effectively.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends that mental health promotion and prevention initiatives must engage communities. This fact is echoed by organizations who's mission is to promote mental health.
Health Canada adds that dispelling myths surrounding mental illness requires community education programs, including school programs that aim to expose and familiarize students with mental health and mental illness terminology and understanding in the early learning years where there exists opportunities for multiple “teachable moments. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology “OUT OF THE SHADOWS AT LAST”, recommends that
• Teachers be trained so that they can be involved in the early identification of mental illness.
• Teachers be given the time and the practical resources and supports necessary to take on this new role.
By exposing school children to mental health concepts, repeatedly through the younger years, children will perceive mental health as part of general well-being similar to physical health. It is important to recognize warning signs of potential problems pertaining to feelings and behaviours. Such programs can improve early detection and recognition of problems by reducing stigma and encouraging early help-seeking behavior. This is the spirit in which Brains Beyond Borders was created; to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and enhance emotional wellness early in life.