Day 155 (of 183) @bcpvpa issues forum notes (mental health focus)

Day 155 (of 183) @bcpvpa issues forum notes (mental health focus)

Our day started with a focus on Mental Health in a School Setting with Andrew Tugwell & Michelle Cianfrone from BC Children’s Hospital:

At any given time 1 in 5 experience a mental health challenge:  75% of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders begin by age 24. 
Working on awareness, recognition, education, attitudes of/towards mental health issues. 

Kelly Mental Health Resource Center info & support

Great reminder that mental wellness is not the same as mental illness – internal and external factors can lead all to either successes or ‘issues to overcome’. 


Depression isn’t sadness 

Anxiety isn’t worries 

Like a dark cloud – no matter how hard you try to get away from it, it is always overhead. 
Sometimes youth can’t identify what “normal” is as they experience “different”


Need to learn about mental health in high school (presenter never had language to explain how he felt – didn’t know he was in ‘trouble’)
Need to talk about it: how are you doing? vs how ARE you doing? – hard to talk about it when nobody else is talking about it. 
Can’t identify by a ‘look’ – easy to be masked. 
Can’t just “suck it up” or “shake it off”
Understanding is so important with mental health – authentic empathy is very complex. 

Kids want to be supported – but so hard to be first to share when the culture isn’t there. 

Ugh – reasons for not accessing mental health supports:
Don’t want parents to know

Hope it’ll just go away

Afraid of what may be told

Didn’t know where to go

Afraid someone I know will see me

Who do people go to?



School people


…….takes a community to be supportive and understanding

“The Collaborative” – provincial group to look into

ADHD – Understanding adhd and how schools can support children youth and families in a school setting. With Candace Murray – director of adhd programs at BC Children’s Hospital
Often mis-diagnosed more often mis-understood

Anxiety – too often parents sharing way too much information

400 kids came in for ADHD diagnosis w follow ups – many adults frustrated by dismissal of “oh I have adhd…..” But not a joke. 

ADH isn’t ADHD

like anxiety/depression – not just ‘a little bit….’ 

Keys: frequency, severity, chronicity 


Attention is inconsistent not deficient

Most children with ADHD not hyperactive

(Interests can = great focus, but they can’t choose what interests them)

Not always present:

Many distractions in classrooms

Like 1:1 situations

Good with constant feedback

Like consistent external stimulation

New settings……

ADHD Symptoms:
ALL children with ADHD have: inconsistent attention
SOME have hyperactivity
Characteristics of add/ADHD like an iceberg (lots below surface)

Esp patience tolerance (written output)

Need many trials

30% delay in maturity/awareness

Executive Functions: the conductor of the orchestra
Response inhibition (stopping)

Working memory (mental multi tasking)

Emotional control (staying calm)

Sustained attention (concentrating)

Task initiation (starting tasks)

Planning (seeing big picture and ways to get there)

Organization (keeping track of into)

Time management

Goal directed persistence


Metacognition (evaluate yourself – self awareness)

ADHD = executive dysfunctions 

EF weaknesses in students:

Blurt out

Illogical stories sequence

Butts in

Grabs others stuff

Rushes through boring tasks
Working memory: trouble with verbal instructions

Mental math hard

Forgets ideas while writing
Copying notes from board?? The WORST!!
Procrastination – interest? Uncertainty
Difficulty beginning – harder in middle 
Can be overwhelmed – esp in planning & organization

Anxiety SO misunderstood – when scared, fight flight – fight back….. Need a different approach to understand where they are coming from (because they are unaware)

Hardest thing for adults to take away / understand: kids can’t stop. 

ie so focused on the moment – tuning out everything else (including/especially ‘stop’) WHEN THESE CHILDREN ARE SENT TO OFFICE FOR SOCISL BEHAVIOURS REMEMBER THEY DONT UNDERSTAND SOCIAL CUES 

ADHD neurobiological – harder to do things others do

Heredity 75% of cases (defensive parents….)

Only 30% “just” ADHD. Mostly with coexisting disorders (anxiety, odd – opinion: a garbage diagnosis and a symptom of extreme frustration of the environment)

High risk for self medication – if treated early with educated parents (lots of people to help) 

Lots of academic issues:

Written output due to fine motor skills

Treatments that work: 4 pillars + 2
1. Parents/teacher education about ADHD

2. Medication for ADHD

3. Parenting strategies

4. School support and accommodations

– regular exercise

– Study skills training (>8 years old)



Cognitive training 

Less so: diet (and more)

So much misinformation about meds – often parents so scared about them. Help focus like a cup of coffee – but lasts longer

No ADHD recognition (funding) until it becomes “odd” aka violent aka Cat H

The people who need it the most tend to not go to ADHD education. If everyone gets it….it helps everyone. 

PVP reminders:

Get involved with them (refer by first name)

Often targeted as they miss social cues

Promote cross-age tutoring

Don’t overload skilled teachers

More support during unstructured times

Cool down areas (w supervision)

Don’t use recess/lunch as punishment

Take time. Give them time to cool down before problem solving

Catch them and call home with good news! I recently heard a parent as she was answering the phone say “oh god what did he do now” and we ended up laughing because it was a good call!

Overall, strategy for self-regulation requires being proactive (ie line-ups)

Know triggers ahead of time!

Keep them moving!!

Remember – there is a difference between CANT and WONT. 

About technolandy

Educator in BCs Sunny Shuswap Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback
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