Many of the students who fail to thrive in school suffer from anxiety and depression. The Government of Canada estimates that 70% of mental health problems emerge in childhood and adolescence. Statistics suggest that 15-21% of children report at least one mental health challenge. Other statistics suggest that anxiety disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, and substance use problems are the most common mental health challenges among youth ages 15 to 17.
How Whytecliff Can Help Kids With Behavioral and Emotional Challenges
Whytecliff offers the BC Ministry of Education accredited curriculum leading to a British Columbia Certificate of Graduation. Whytecliff also incorporates the new BC Curriculum’s intellectual, personal, and social-emotional proficiencies, with a special emphasis on youth development as well as positive mental health and wellness.
Whytecliff is designed to promote positive mental health, rather than treat serious emotional and behavioral challenges. At the same time, many children who have emotional and behavioral challenges ⎯ who have a desire to want to grow ⎯ have been (and are) successful in the program. This occurs in part as at Whytecliff, children are purposefully not ‘pushed’ or pressured to change, as forcing unwelcome change upon a child is often counterproductive and ineffective. Our role instead is to set the stage ⎯ to increase children’s internal skills and resources and to provide the right relationships and support which ‘pull’ a child up to be their very best (and quite often, it’s the students themselves who pull each other up).
Many clinical frameworks presume that change begins with fresh ‘effort’ ⎯ that simply trying harder and developing the right ‘mental muscles’ will produce the best results. Whytecliff’s Positive Youth Development model sees change differently. Our therapeutic approach is about encouraging fresh perspectives and cultivating new relationships that enable a new ‘chemistry’ to take root. For children with behavioural and emotional challenges, we believe that it’s the quality of the relationships between students and staff that are at the heart of growth and change.
Good relationships pave the way for building a “Therapeutic Working Alliance” between children and staff at Whytecliff. This working alliance allows our warm, caring, and competent staff to become attuned to children’s needs and abilities and to:
● identify and provide the right developmental factors for each child;
● ensure that the right conditions/resources for growth are present;
● help students gain the right understandings/experiences;
● remove/reduce any obstacles or barriers to growth;
● encourage and reinforce growth-seeking attitudes and behavior (growth mindset).