B.C. expands anxiety education resource to high school teachers, students

Lockers in a school hallway. (Shutterstock)

The B.C. government is expanding a resource to help students with anxiety by now offering it to high schools.

Teachers must first complete an online course on how to use the materials, after which they have access to a program called Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators – or EASE for short.

EASE focuses on breathing, mindfulness and coping skills, along with strategies to tackle common problems like procrastination, test anxiety, facing fears, managing mood and social media's impact on mental health and well-being, according to a statement from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

"The pandemic has had a profound impact on children's and youths' mental health," said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development in the statement.

"Expanding EASE to grades 8-12 puts practical and much-needed tools for managing anxiety directly into classrooms, so even more young people can learn how to boost their coping skills in these challenging times."

The EASE program is rooted in evidence-based principles of cognitive behavioural therapy.

The school-based resource is free and available to teachers, school counsellors and support staff within all B.C. school districts, independent schools and First Nations schools. The program was first made available to elementary schools in 2019.

According to the ministry, the initiative aligns with the government's commitment to provide school-based mental-health programming and resources focused on promotion, prevention and early intervention.

An Indigenous literacy teacher and an Elder participated in the development of the resources, and EASE supports the integration of locally adapted and applied Indigenous perspectives, reads the statement from the ministry.