Middle: Mental Health
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April 2022 

Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being, which means it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress in our lives, relate to others, and what choices we make.  When we experience good mental health, it doesn‘t mean we are always in a good mood, nor does it prevent the stresses of life from coming our way.  But, it does help us cope with them so we can continue to engage productively in our everyday lives.
what is mental health literacy?
lmproving mental health literacy through education empowers people by helping them develop the skills they need to care for themselves, make good health care decisions, and access the resources they need.

Mental health literacy helps people identify possible issues when they arise and be more open to getting help when they need it.
Mental health literacy is also important for reducing stigma. Poor understanding of mental health can lead to discrimination and unhealthy coping behaviours, and prevent people from asking for help.
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understanding mental health
Everyone has mental health regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness. A mental illness is a health condition arising from changes in usual brain functioning that causes that person difficulty in functioning. Like illnesses that affect other parts of the body, mental illnesses are treatable and the sooner people obtain effective treatment and support – the better their outcomes. Thus the importance of early education and intervention.
Indigenous conceptions of mental health do not assume a division between mind and body. They focus on developing an understanding of the body and mind as a whole and how illness is symptomatic of an imbalance between the individual, the society, and the spiritual realm. Mental health includes self-esteem, personal dignity, cultural identity and connectedness in the presence of a harmonious physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. 
What is the difference between mental health, mental distress and mental illness?
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stigma of mental health
Understanding mental illness and treatments can help dispel misconceptions and stigma.  We all  have a responsibility to fight the stigma associated with mental illness as stigma acts as a barrier to people seeking help for mental health problems and mental illness. Mental Health Literacy education can inform, educate, and reduce the stigma which supports our youth in feeling confident in accessing support when they need it.
treatment of mental health illness
Mental illnesses are diseases that affect many aspects of a person‘s life. Mental illnesses, like physical illnesses, can be effectively treated. With appropriate support and receipt of evidence-based treatment, most people with a mental illness can function effectively in everyday life.

There are many ways of seeking help for mental health problems and mental illnesses, and resources are available within schools and within the community.  Knowing the signs and symptoms of mental illness helps people know how to distinguish the normal ups and downs of life from something more serious. There are positive coping strategies that we can learn to help us obtain and maintain good mental health.
Visit the secondary Snapshot for information on the most common mental health concerns for youth which are anxiety, ADHD and depression.

Mental Health Literacy at school
Mentalhealthliteracy.org is a Canadian resource based on research that was created by Dr. Stan Kutcher and Dr. Yifeng Wei. The primary goal is to offer this resource to teachers and students to educate and reduce stigma around the conversation of mental health. For the past few years many of our middle schools have been using this curriculum with grade 8 students. 
Mental Health Literacy education supports students in having the knowledge, attitudes and competencies to help themselves and others if necessary. 
Mental health literacy has four components:
- Understanding how to optimize and maintain good mental health
- Understanding mental disorders and their treatments
- Decreasing Stigma
- Enhancing help-seeking efficacy (knowing when and where to get help and having the skills necessary to promote self-care and how to obtain good care).  
April school poster
It‘s important for youth to take care of themselves to get the most from life. This poster offers 5 simple and practical ways for adolescents to take control of their mental health.

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