FREDERICTON (GNB) – The eighth annual Ring a Bell campaign takes place Dec. 3-7.

“Promoting positive mental health for our children and youth is a priority for our government,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “Awareness programs such as this one help destigmatize mental illness. I encourage everyone to take a moment on Dec. 7 and ring a bell in support of the mental health of our young people.”

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness and inspire youth, their families and communities to take positive actions in support of youth mental health.

The campaign is co-ordinated jointly by Dots NB / Partners for Youth Inc., the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Bell Aliant.

Mental health lesson plans will be used in classrooms across the province as part of the campaign. This awareness effort will culminate as students in kindergarten through Grade 8 provincewide are invited to show their support by ringing bells for one minute. Ringing the bell is meant to draw attention to the importance of ensuring the mental health needs of children are met and their voices are heard. This year’s main event is being held at MacDonald Consolidated School. A reading of Sheree Fitch’s book Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street will also take place.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to once again be part of this campaign for increased awareness of mental health among children and youth,” said Glen LeBlanc, vice-chair Atlantic at Bell Canada. “We applaud Partners for Youth and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for their leadership in bringing the Ring A Bell campaign to schools around the province, and are proud to support the engagement of students, parents and teachers in growing this important conversation about mental health.”

“Opportunities to come together as a community to openly talk about mental health are so important,” said Cindy Miles, interim CEO of Partners for Youth Inc. “We are pleased with the support from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Bell Aliant’s ongoing commitment to this campaign. As a province, we have made progress in providing mental health services for our youth, but there is still much more work that needs to be done in order to ensure that every young person and their family in this province know they are not alone and that the services they need are available and accessible.”

In September of 2017, the government expanded the Integrated Service Delivery model in order to provide mental health, addiction, intervention and social services to children and youth in schools across the province. Offered at the community level, it ties together services from the departments of Education and Early Childhood Development, Social Development, Health, Public Safety, Justice and the Office of the Attorney General. Children and youth may access the program through their school or another community service.

Improving mental health services for children and youth is a component of the government’s 10-year education plans, strategies for crime reduction and harm prevention, and the Mental Health Action Plan. Supporting people with mental health challenges is also one of the seven priority areas of the New Brunswick Family Plan framework.