Psychologists and researchers from Western University are combining talent and strength with prominent community leaders working in children’s mental health to advance a new way to deliver mental health services to our children. A Forum on School Based Mental Health, featuring keynote speaker Senator Michael Kirby, will convene at Windermere Manor on September 18th to discuss and advance this industry-changing initiative led by Western Education Dean Vicki Schwean.
Attendees at the forum include children’s mental health experts from across Canada, directors of the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board, medical and mental health professionals, social services leaders and faculty representatives from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Faculty of Social Sciences.
“Only a minority of children needing mental health services receives them,” says Schwean, one of Canada’s leading experts in educational psychology. “And for a majority of other children, school is the de facto mental health centre.”
With the establishment of the Centre for School Based Mental Health at Western’s Faculty of Education, experts will focus on three key areas: research, education and advocacy. The research will focus on what is not working in the current care delivery system and new and effective ways to deliver health care services. The Centre will also provide mental health education to teacher candidates helping them to navigate an increasingly demanding classroom environment. The initiative will advocate for the radical restructuring of delivery systems of mental health care.
The forum will also be one of many steps to bring the community together in dialogue and action. Senator Kirby is the national chair of Partners for Mental Health and is often cited for his comment that if mental health is the orphan of the health care system, children’s mental health is “the orphan’s orphan.”