FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mental Health in Canadian Schools

by

The CBC reported on October 7th 2014 that there may be a need for a “national strategy” to address the mental health needs of children in schools.  This clarion call comes amidst daily reports of PTSD and suicide in the military, the systemic abuse of aboriginal women, mass shootings, beheadings, and bombing. Luckily drones do not develop mental illness. But is this apparent mental health crisis something new?

Not really.  In fact, in the 1950s the Canadian government, in cooperation with the Provinces and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), developed and tested a national mental health strategy. It was called the Forest Hill Village Project and it also targeted children in schools. Massive federal-provincial funding enabled the CMHA in cooperation with the U of T to bring teachers from across Canada to Toronto to train as mental health liaison officers. They returned to their schools ready to mentor other teachers in group psychotherapy techniques, and to identify and assist children with mental health issues.

Who was behind it?  The leader was John R. Seeley, a Home Child who emerged into the national limelight as a brilliant young sociologist with the U of T Department of Psychiatry; his colleague Martin Fischer, consulting psychiatrist at Browndale, a group home made famous in Allan King’s award-winning documentary, Warrendale; Aldwyn Stokes, founder of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, now the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH); and Lila Frances Coates, a pediatric psychiatrist.

What did these mental health pioneers achieve?  Stokes went so far as to claim that the benefits of Seeley’s formula for free discussion in the classroom, the core therapeutic technique of the project, was “something proven”.  Then, why has their work been forgotten?  The same reasons that present calls for action are in danger of resulting in nothing more than another passing public relations initiative. We might count amongst them the narcissism of the experts; public fear and stigmatization; media romanticization; the impenetrability of massive corporate hierarchies; and the self-deception of elites who prefer tax-deductible charitable donations to meaningful political change that may upset the markets.  Indeed, it is no coincidence that they have again raised the mental health banner at a time of war.

It is now a century since the Great War when the mental health movement began in response to “shell shock”.  Seeley’s work was aimed at pacifying a population traumatized by the Cold War. Today, as our anxieties intensify in the face of higher expectations in the workplace and terror in the streets, the authorities again sense a threat to public order. But therapy is not thought control.  The healing process may in fact require far-reaching social change.

So, what is to be done?

We must pursue mental health programs in schools in a sustained, self-reflective and scientific manner; not as a short-term panacea designed to satisfy the interests of the elite.  They are already well taken-care of, but the people are suffering.

Dr. Paul Bentley (Ed. D.) is Head of History at King City Secondary School.
More articles by:
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail