Our school education program includes classroom presentations, awareness programs for parents, and teacher training seminars. For maximum benefits we encourage schools to take advantage of all three programs. However, we will accommodate each school according to its needs and availability.
Mental health problems can interfere with a student’s behaviour and performance. Often such problems go unrecognized, leading to a downward spiral in the student’s academic and social success. Students may become aggressive, suicidal or start using drugs or alcohol in an effort to cope. If caught early, these problems need not develop into lifelong patterns or interrupt a student’s life.
In Québec, it is estimated that 3% of 13 to 19 year olds suffer from clinical depression and that only 30% receive treatment. Those with undiagnosed and untreated mental illness often grow up to be adults with even more severe and persistent disorders. The best hope for children at risk for serious mental illness lies in early detection, and this should be possible during childhood – the most intensely watched developmental period in life.
AMI-Québec is committed to educating parents, teachers, students and the community about early detection in order to avert the devastation that long-term mental illness can cause.
1. Classroom Presentations:
The purpose of these presentations is to increase general awareness of mental illness and to decrease the stigma and fear surrounding it. AMI-Québec has collaborated with over 70 high schools, CEGEPS, universities, and community organizations in Montreal to demystify mental illness and sensitize students to its causes and triggers. Classroom presentations are given over one or two periods. The warning signs and symptoms of major disorders such as depression, psychosis, eating disorders and suicide are addressed. A volunteer who has either experienced mental illness or has a family member with mental illness shares his/her personal experience. Presentations are flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of each particular school.
“I thought it was very brave of her to come to the classroom and share her story with the class…”
- Student, grade 8, Hudson High School
AMI-Québec has written pamphlets that are geared specifically for teens and a limited supply to high school students are distributed during presentations. The pamphlets can be downloaded here:
2. Awareness Programs for Parents:
Parenting adolescents who have a mental illness is a challenging task. Mental illness often has a gradual onset that catches families unaware. Parents often view a problem with their child as a poor reflection on themselves and feel enormous guilt. Parent seminars are tailored to suit the participants’ needs. Some typical topics include dispelling myths, stigma, misinformation and blaming; understanding the causes and behaviour patterns of different early onset illnesses; how to maintain communication with teachers and school and how to navigate the resource and referral process. Mental health professionals are invited to participate in the seminars.
3. Teacher Training Seminars:
Parents and teachers are children’s closest observers. Problems first surfacing at home are often amplified in the school setting. Teachers are uniquely placed to observe changes in a child’s behaviour or appearance that might indicate a need for intervention. Schools provide a critical link between a child in crisis and referral for evaluation. AMI-Québec’s Teacher Training Seminars are aimed at supporting teachers by bringing them up to date on the latest research, warning signs and community resources for mental illness. A healthcare professional is often present.
“The information you impart and the message you are sending are of paramount importance to all – students and staff included.”
- Teacher, John F. Kennedy High School
Below are links for those interested in introducing their own educational programs in high schools:
If you are now productively managing your illness or that of your family member and would like to share your story of recovery as part of our presentations, please email Kate Fredette or call 514-486-1448. An interview and training will be required.
FRIENDS for Life
FRIENDS for Life is a resilience-building program that helps to prevent anxiety and depression in children and youth. Developed in Australia and evaluated extensively for more than ten years, the program teaches cognitive, behavioural, and emotional skills and enhances self-esteem and the ability to cope with feelings of fear, worry, depression and anxiety. With a rate of 15% of preschoolers who manifest atypically high levels of depression and anxiety (Sylvana M. Coté, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, September 2009), FRIENDS for Life serves as a wake up call and a potentially important response.
AMI–Québec introduced the program in Québec through a collaboration with the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and the East-Island Network for English-Language Services (REISA). Since 2010 FRIENDS has been introduced in a number of schools in Montréal and surrounding regions and has been well received by teachers, parents, and the children themselves.
To explore bringing the FRIENDS program to your school, call us at 514-486-1448.
Our outreach and education program offers a wide range of presentations in various settings, such as schools, universities, and community organizations. Presentations are tailored to the needs and interests of the organization.
To book a presentation or discuss your request, please email Kate Fredette (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 514-486-1448.