Home » Resolutions » Resolution 2021-3: Weekly Upstream Mental Health and Outdoor Curriculum

Resolution 2021-3: Weekly Upstream Mental Health and Outdoor Curriculum

Resolution Number: 2021-3
Submitted by: Submitted by Hernewood Home and School Association

WHEREAS the first and second pillars (priorities) of the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch Strategic Action Plan (i). are Student Success and Wellness, and

WHEREAS a study on Canadian Children by the Canadian Index for Child and Youth Well-being (ii). revealed only 46.9% of children feel positive about school, 26.8% have more school work than they can handle, 35.2% experience discrimination, 1/4 experience fighting, regular bullying, and/or violence at home, 59.8% go to school feeling tired, 34.2% have weekly mental distress, and 1 in 4 live in poverty, and

WHEREAS numerous peer-reviewed studies including ones from Berkley and the University of California (iii). highlighted the direct correlation between student success and time spent connected to nature; academic gains and attitudes improved in language arts, math, social studies and science when outdoor lesson time was incorporated into weekly learning; scores in science improved an impressive 26%; teachers in the same study reported improved connections with all types of learners and an increase in their own job satisfaction, and

WHEREAS numerous peer-reviewed studies including one from Harvard,iv. show a link between reduced anxiety, hostility, stress and depression with time spent outdoors; a study conducted by the American Institute for Research (v). published that 75-93% of the children studied, reported that an outdoor setting calms them down when angry; a study published in the Journal for Attention Disorders (vi). shows children with ADHD behave better and have less serve symptoms when they are outdoors and rate their experiences with outdoors education more positively compared to traditional classroom settings, and

WHEREAS numerous peer-reviewed studies, including one published in the Oxford Journal of Medicine (vii), showed outdoor learning activities help combat childhood obesity and may help reduce the risk of nearsightedness, and

WHEREAS children and teens are spending less and less time outdoors due to changes in technology and societal norms resulting in nature deficit disorder (viii), and

WHEREAS half of all mental health conditions start by 14, but the majority remain undetected and untreated with only 1 out of every 5 youth who need mental health services receiving them; whereas suicide is the leading cost of death in 15-24 year-old Canadians, second only to accidents, and ranked as the second-highest hospital care expenditure in Canada (ix)., and

WHEREAS the current cost to our economy due to mental health illness (x). is at a minimum 50 billion dollars per year and growing; with 1 in 5 Canadians suffering each year and 3.2 million youth aged 12-19 at risk for developing depression; 1 out of 2 Canadians will have or have experienced a mental illness by the age of 40 – which are notably pre-COVID19 statistics, and

WHEREAS there are continuous shortages of qualified workers in PEI leading to vacancies within the social work, guidance and psychology fields and there are many students who will not receive help or not know they need help because of a lack of weekly upstream mental activities, and

WHEREAS daily mental health activities and/or interaction with nature are integral to student’s mental and physical health; and strong pillars of Student Success and Wellness cannot be achieved without upstream mental health and outdoor education,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the P.E.I. Home and School Federation requests the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning to implement weekly upstream mental health and outdoor curriculum time into the education stream to coincide with its commitment to Student Success and Well-being.


i. Public Schools Branch. (June 2018). Public Schools Branch Strategic Action Plan 2018-2021. Retrieved from https://edu.princeedwardisland.ca/psb/about/about-the-psb/public-schools…ic-action-plan-2018-2021/

ii. Wolff, Lisa. UNICEF Canada (August 2020). Investing Upstream in Mental Health Promotion: 2019 Baseline Report (p. 11-13) Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being. Retrieved from the Atlantic Summer Institute for Healthy and Safe Communities 2020 policy conference.

iii. Suttie, Jill (May 2018). The Surprising Benefits of Teaching a Class Outside: A new study finds that a class in nature helps kids be more attentive and focused once they return indoors. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_surprising_benefits_of…

iv. Harvard Men’s Health Watch (2018, July). Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature: Research suggests that mood disorders can be lifted by spending more time outdoors. Harvard Health Publishing, Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

v. New, Karina (April 2016). Bringing the Classroom Outdoors: An Analysis of Toronto Educator Perceptions and Challenges. (p. 27-28)  Retrieved from https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/72254/1/New_Karina_C_2…

vi. Szczytko, Rachel, Carrier, Sarah, & Stevenson, Kathyrn & Kuo, Ming (Ed.) (2018). Impacts of Outdoor Environmental Education on Teacher Reports of Attention, Behavior, and Learning Outcomes for Students With Emotional, Cognitive, and Behavioral Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2018.00046/full

vii. World Health Organization–Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales (March 2015). The Impact of Myopia and High Myopia. Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/blindness/causes/MyopiaReportforWeb.pdf

viii. Denworth, Lydia (February 2018). The benefits of learning outdoors. Brain Waves. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/brain-waves/201802/the-benefits-…
Marchant, Emily, Todd, Charlotte, & Brophy, Sinead (February 2021). Outdoor learning has huge benefits for children and teachers – so why isn’t it used in more schools? Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/outdoor-learning-has-huge-benefits-for-child…

Swansea University (June 2019). An hour or two of outdoor learning every week increases teachers’ job satisfaction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190611102710.htm

ix. Culberson, Andrew. NB Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (August 2020) Promoting Positive Mental Health by Exploring Our Purpose (p. 15) Retrieved from the Atlantic Summer Institute for Healthy and Safe Communities 2020 policy conference.

x. Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario (January 2013). Mental illness costs Canadian economy $50 billion per year. Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/news/mental-illness-costs-canadian-economy-50-bi…


Resolution 2021-3: Weekly Upstream Mental Health and Outdoor Curriculum
APPROVED with Friendly Amendment
To add an 11th WHEREAS STATEMENT as follows:

WHEREAS an education which promotes and emphasizes a greater awareness and understanding of local ecosystems – and local and global environmental issues – will give children the background needed to become informed citizens and future leaders;

Status: Passed with Amendments
Destination:Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture
Public Schools Branch

Department of Education and Lifelong Learning:  In response to the resolution for weekly upstream mental health and outdoor curriculum, the DELL believes that the health of our children and youth is imperative to student achievement and their future. Through a quality physical and health education program, students will learn the skills required to be confident and competent movers for life. Students will develop the cognitive and social skills necessary to understand how to maintain and promote their health. A positive attitude towards physical activity will be instilled in our youth, decreasing the chances of young people engaging in risk behaviour and supporting positive mental health while providing a platform for broader social inclusion.

Through the Intermediate Curriculum Delivery Renewal, grades 7 to 9, the Physical and Health Education curriculum has been integrated and delivered for ten percent of the program of studies. Integrating physical and health education as one course allows the genuine connection between critical components of overall health to emerge throughout the course. Being active in various environments is core to the curriculum, including outdoor education and nature-based physical activity. Learners will be engaged in the continuous connection of general well-being, physical, psychological, social and environmental, through all course areas.
~Hon. Natalie Jameson, Minister DELL

Public Schools Branch:  I acknowledge the approved resolutions from the May 10, 2021 Annual General Meeting and support the response provided by the Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning. The Public Schools Branch is prepared to collaborate with the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning in bringing the proposed resolutions to fruition.
~Bethany MacLeod, PSB Board Chair and Deputy Minister, DELL