Compelling studies have raised significant issues that show the importance of implementing mental health interventions early in a child’s life. For example, a significant proportion of all mental health disorders begin by age 14; 1 in 6 children below the age of 10 has a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder; Boys are more likely than girls to have behavioral and developmental disorders, such as conduct disorders; and girls are more likely than boys to have mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Emotional and behavioral problems can lead to poor school performance and vice versa, which can also result in problems in later life.
The School Mental Health Awareness and Prevention Services Project targets the promotion of social and emotional awareness, provides pathways for developing resilience by focusing on the prevention of social, emotional, and developmental issues that may lead to risk-labeled behaviours. Some of the objectives of the SchoolMAPS are:
- To create programs that empower students in managing their emotional and social functioning
- Increase the capacity of teachers and school authorities to identify and manage signs of mental distress common in children and adolescents
- Establish emotional learning activities, and Peer Support Networks to help increase resiliency in school aged children
- Integrate mental health programs into the state education system