Teaching Kids Mental Health Skills Can Ease Anxiety, Suicidal Thoughts

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A new Canadian pilot program designed to promote mental health skills in youth significantly lessened cases of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

University of Alberta researchers led the EMPATHY program in a local school district from 2013 to 2015. The program was offered to more than 6,000 youth in grades six through 12.

A follow-up study conducted 15 months after the program ended found the percentage of the total school population who were actively suicidal decreased from 4.4 percent to 2.8 percent.

Moreover, rates of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of self-harm also saw significant declines.

“With the school board’s active participation, we switched some of the health classes to mental health training and resiliency classes,” said Dr.

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