School & Youth Health
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School & Youth Health

Northern Health School Health programs and services focus on helping children and youth achieve optimum health and well-being. 

Good health contributes to successful learning in students!

Northern Health supports the Comprehensive School Health Framework which is an approach that includes a variety of activities and services that take place in schools and surrounding communities.

At Northern Health, we want to help create a healthy school community for children, school staff and parents!

Questions about school health? Contact your local health unit or school nurse.



Also see:

Keep your child safe as they head to and from school. Visit Injury Prevention's Back to School Safety page!

Back to School for Children with Cancer

Here is some information to help families and school personnel understand potential issues and plan strategies to help childhood cancer survivors in the classroom.

Welcome Back Workshop

video created by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada)

Additional Resources

To learn more about the various types of blood cancer and their treatments please visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada

Communicable Diseases

A communicable disease is a condition caused by a specific infectious germ and its toxic products. 

There are many different communicable diseases including:

  • Influenza
  • Chickenpox
  • Common cold

Communicable diseases can be transmitted from:

  • An infected person
  • Animal or non-living object (i.e. desks, books, door-handles, etc.)

When children are in a group setting, such as at school, and are working and playing closely together, infections and diseases can spread more easily. Early recognition and prompt treatment of illness or infestation can significantly reduce the spread of communicable disease in the school setting. 

Protect yourself and others by preventing the spread of illness through:

  • Hand washing
  • Proper cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Immunization
  • Staying home when ill

If you suspect you or your child has a communicable disease, please seek medical care.

Further questions about communicable diseases? Contact your local health unit or school nurse.

Additional Resources

Dental Health

 

Eye Health for School Aged Children

Good vision and eye health are important to a child’s development as more than 80% of a child's learning is based on vision.

One in five children have a vision disorder and if left unchecked serious long term problems can result.

This is why early childhood screening programs are vital to detecting and correcting vision disorders in children before they reach 6 years of age.  With strong, healthy eyes, children will be able to more easily learn, adapt, and develop throughout childhood to the best of their ability.

It is recommended that children have a full eye exam by an optometrist by the age of 3 years and then annually thereafter.  Routine eye examinations are covered by MSP (are free) for all children 0-18 years of age.

Additional Resources

Head Lice

Head Lice are tiny insects that live on the human scalp. 

They do not transmit disease and are not a health hazard; having head lice is not an indication of being unclean, or a reflection of personal hygiene.

Things to know about Head Lice:

  • Mainly acquired by direct head-to-head contact with an infested person's hair (but may infrequently be transferred through shared combs, hats and other hair accessories.)
  • Can also remain on bedding or upholstered furniture for a brief period of time
  • Can spread very quickly, especially in the school environment so very important to inform friends, family and school mates of anyone who has it. 
  • It is also important that children get treated promptly, to prevent the spread of lice to other families.
  • Can best be controlled with the cooperation of parents, children, school staff and health care providers.

For further questions or concerns, please contact your Public Health Nurse.

Additional Resources

School Use

Hearing Services

A child’s speech and language skills come from their hearing ability! Hearing is also an important factor in a child’s social and emotional growth. Even minimal hearing loss can affect how well a child will learn and succeed academically in the school environment.

Some signs of a hearing loss are subtle. Does your child:

  • Use speech that is not clear for their age level?
  • Use the phone better with one ear than the other?
  • Have trouble hearing certain sounds?
  • Often ask you to repeat things
  • Tend to withdraw from groups or "daydream"? 
  • Often show frustration when talking in groups?
  • Understand you better when he/she sees your face?
  • Have trouble hearing in noisy conditions?
  • Have very loud or very soft speech?
  • Tend to watch others before starting something?
  • Often make mistakes with directions?
  • Not respond when he/she is spoken to from behind?

If your child is doing several of these things, talk to your school staff, public health nurse, public health audiologist or doctor.

Some conditions are likely to cause hearing problems that come and go, including:

  • Ear infections
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Short-term noise

Some causes of permanent hearing loss are:

  • Excessive noise exposure, both frequent and infrequent exposure
  • Genetic hearing loss in the family
  • Certain childhood diseases like measles, mumps or meningitis
  • Certain medications that are used to treat some serious illnesses
  • Severe head injury

Please see your doctor if your child has:

  • A runny ear (fluid or discharge coming out of it)
  • Pain in the ear
  • Bad smell from the ear
  • Redness  around/in the ear
  • Wax totally blocking the ear canal
  • An object in the ear canal

Additional Resources

Immunizations in Schools

Immunizations are a safe, effective and healthy way to prevent disease. British Columbia has one of the best immunization programs in the world!

Currently, B.C.'s publicly funded immunization program for school-aged children, provides a variety of vaccines for protection against infectious diseases.

  • At school entry (4-6 years of age) students are offered vaccinations against Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis/Polio, Chickenpox and any childhood vaccinations that may be overdue. Kindergarten immunizations are offered through Health Units; information is sent home regarding dates and times.
  • Grade 6 students are offered vaccinations against Hepatitis B, Meningococcal C, Chickenpox and for girls, Human Papillomavirus (HPV). For more information please visit the HealthLinkBC Grade 6 Immunization page.
  • Grade 9 students are offered vaccinations against Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis.
  • Immunizations are offered at school throughout the school year for grade 6 and grade 9 students. Consent forms and information are sent home through the schools. Please read the information carefully, complete and sign the consent form and return to the school
  • You can download the Grade 6 Consent Form and Grade 6 Immunizations in BC or the Grade 9 Consent Form

Instructions for completing online consent form:

  • Check the "yes" box if you want your child to get the vaccine, and check the "no" box if you do not want your child to get the vaccine
  • Print the consent form, then sign for each vaccine even if you checked "no"
  • Return the consent form to the school or health unit

If you have any questions or concerns about vaccines or immunizations, please contact your local health unit, school nurse or health care provider.

What's New

Starting January 1, 2012 - A second dose of Chickenpox vaccine to be offered to children at Kindergarten entry (4-6 years of age).

Additional Resources

Medical Alert Conditions

Some students who attend school may require emergency care by school staff. These conditions, also called Medical Alert conditions, are diagnosed by a doctor and are potentially life threatening. 

Some Medical Alert conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorder
  • Anaphylaxis and/or history of severe allergic reaction
  • Severe asthma
  • Blood clotting disorders, such as haemophilia
  • Other conditions which may require emergency care

Each school district has its own policy and forms on dealing with students with Medical Alert conditions. Contact your local school for more information.

If you have any questions or concerns about Medical Alert conditions, please contact your local health unit, school nurse or health care provider.

Additional Resources

Allergies and Anaphylaxis

Diabetes

Epilepsy

Mental Health and Addictions

Canada's health care system has dedicated itself to providing people opportunities to experience life in a way that is meaningful, fosters creativity and offers a multitude of avenues to be productive members of society. Mental health is essential for this to happen; it is important to physical health, personal well-being and positive family and interpersonal relationships.

Programs within Northern Health's Mental Health and Addictions Youth Services are dedicated to providing exceptional, integrated services to youth in BC's Northern health region. All services and programs are guided by client centered models founded in harm reduction philosophies and are dedicated to developing and sustaining models of care based on current best and promising practices.

Our Family of Services

Northern Health's Mental Health and Addictions Youth Services programs include:

  • Nechako Youth Treatment Program
  • Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment Unit
  • Eating Disorders Clinic
  • Early Psychosis and Identification Treatment Program
  • Youth Community Outpatient Services

All of the above programs work from a prevention perspective. Working from and "Every Door is the Right Door" service delivery approach, youth entering any one of these programs has an opportunity to access the specialized services of any of the teams listed above.

If you have questions or need more information on Mental Health and Addictions please visit Northern Health's Mental Health and Addictions page.

Additional Resources

Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment Unit (APAU)

University Hospital of Northern British Columbia - 3rd Floor
1475 Edmonton Street
Prince George, BC
V2M 1S2
Phone: (250) 565-2575
Fax: (250) 565-2661

The Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment Unit [APAU] is a six-bed inpatient assessment and crisis stabilization unit for youth aged 12-18 years of age, living within the Northern Health Region.

Referrals are accepted on an ongoing basis from family doctors, emergency departments, Community Mental Health and Addictions Clinicians, and MCFD in the Northern Health Region; however, collateral referral information, and support for the referral from a family doctor is required. Referrals are processed through a committee and triaged to the appropriate service.

Adolescents experiencing the following difficulties may be admitted for either assessment or crisis stabilization:

  • Psychosis
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Adjustment Disorders
  • Aggressive Acting Out
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Compulsive violence
  • Homicidal thoughts
  • Eating Disorders

Therapeutic Approach

APAU works toward the creation of an environment that is welcoming and accepting. Services are offered from a multi-disciplinary team that follows a biopsychosocial model. The team members consist of disciplines in Psychiatry, Psychology, Nursing, Counselling, Recreational Therapy, and Education.
Services include:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Recreational activities such as cooking group, art therapy and outings off site
  • Family involvement, which is an essential part of our assessment process
  • Crisis consultation is available when it is needed including while awaiting services and after being discharged from the program
  • Youth may have planned passes with family or caregivers to assess their readiness to leave the program

Referrals

Referrals are accepted from sources within the Northern Health Region. Referral packages can be obtained by contacting our Wait List Clinician at 250-649-7065.

It is highly recommended that young people coming into the program have an established relationship with counselling services in their own community prior to admission. Youth that do not have a counselor prior to admission will be referred to a local counselling service as part of their assessment and discharge planning for APAU.

Important Considerations

  • Case Managers can call into Grand Rounds every Monday at 10:00 a.m. (except stat holidays) to gather information for admitted clients or for any ongoing support pre- and post-admission. (please call 250-649-7065 for details)
  • All youth are required to participate in the daily programming to the best of their abilities. Clients can be re-referred for further assessment or follow up.

Aftercare

After a young person leaves our care, follow up and support is very important. We do our best to make the transition back into a home environment as successful as possible. To do this we provide:

  • Individualized discharge planning consisting of ongoing consultation and collaboration with the youth, family, and community care management
  • A written summary of recommendations for aftercare and follow up to the Family Doctor and to the Case Manager
  • Support to assist family members following the return home

Nechako Youth Treatment Program

1308 Alward Street
Prince George, BC
V2M 7B1
Phone: (250) 565-2881
Fax: (250) 565-2883

Established in 2000, the Nechako Youth Treatment Program provides an inpatient addictions based treatment program for 7 adolescents aged 13-18 years of age who live in the Northern Health catchment region. There is one acute bed for medical detoxification that can be utilized on short notice if it is available.

Referrals are accepted from anyone – a referral package is filled out and reviewed by referral committee and appropriate referrals are given intake date and wait-listed until a bed becomes available. The wait-list clinician will be in contact with intake date and information as needed.

The program utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach. Services are provided by nurses, a unit physician, a family liaison, and youth care counsellors. Psychiatrists and Psychologists are available as needed.

Recovery from substance misuse can be a difficult process, and therefore, the program consists of two phases wherein phase 1 is a time for rapport building and settling into the program and then if appropriate moves into phase 2 which is more treatment focused.

Services:

  • Mental Health Assessments and Treatments
  • Addiction Severity Assessments
  • Therapeutic Groups
  • Educational worksheets
  • 1:1 counseling
  • Recreational activities within the community
  • Journaling
  • Life skills training
  • School program
  • Discharge planning and referrals to ongoing care

Important Considerations:

  • Any youth who leaves the centre without authorization will be considered discharged
  • Prescription/nonprescription medications must be handed in upon arrival and only the Unit Physician can prescribe medications
  • Couples and members of the same family will not be permitted to attend the program at the same time
  • Phone calls and visits are limited and need to be prearranged

Prince George Eating Disorders Clinic

1308 Alward St - 2nd Floor
Prince George, BC
V2M 7B1
Phone: (250) 565-7479
Fax:(250) 649-7662

Provides free service in the Northern Health Region for youth and adults assessed with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified).

The Clinic can be accessed directly by clients without a referral by a physician by calling 250-565-7479.

Services include:

  • Assessments – Medical, Psychosocial, and Nutritional and family
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Meal support therapy
  • Nutritional therapy and support
  • Family support
  • Medical follow-up appointments
  • Psychiatric consultation when appropriate

Clinic staff consults and collaborates with local and regional resources in order to provide service closer to home for out-of-town clients; video-conference assessments are available.

When necessary, the clinic refers clients to BC Children’s and St. Paul Hospital Eating Disorders Programs.

Should I Be Worried?

Eating disorders and weight preoccupation affect people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and occupations.

Warning Signs of a possible eating disorder are:

  • Restrictive or unusual eating patterns
  • Preoccupation with food, weight, and dieting
  • Elimination of food groups
  • Uncontrolled eating
  • Denial of hunger and/or fullness
  • Coping with emotions by overeating or not eating
  • Extreme body dissatisfaction
  • Obsession with exercise
  • Secrecy and isolation from family and friends
  • Guilt, shame, and anxiety around eating
  • Depression and moodiness
  • Low self esteem and self worth
  • All or nothing thinking
  • Perfectionism
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Self-induced vomiting and swollen neck glands
  • Irregular or absent menstruation
  • Hair loss
  • Frequent dental problems

Note: Warning signs like low self esteem, while concerning, is not by itself an indicator of an eating disorder. These are provided to assist you in being aware of some of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. Early intervention is very important for a better chance of recovery.

Guide for Friends and Family:

  • Nagging to eat more or less will only make things worse; overeating or under eating is only the symptom.
  • Talk about things other than food, weight, and appearance.
  • You alone cannot provide the cure; the real problem can be very deep.
  • Take time to learn about eating disorders.
  • Assist your friend or family member to seek help. This may be difficult because of secrecy or denial.
  • It is important to support your friend or family member. This is a very difficult time in his or her life.
  • Be patient. . . overcoming an eating disorder will take time.
  • Find outside support for yourself.
  • It is okay to report your friend’s illness to a professional. If your friend or family member will not seek help, speak with a school counsellor, teacher, nurse, or doctor.

Community Referrals:

Health care providers, educators, and other community resources may refer clients or access our service for consultation.

Referrals may be faxed to 250-649-7662; please call and request a referral form.

Community Development and Consultation:

The clinic collaborates and consults with agencies, consumers, community groups, hospital and mental health staff, physicians, and other professionals; the clinic also networks with other services specializing in eating disorders.

We promote initiatives providing support, education, and other eating disorders services which expand the continuum of care and resources and are involved with prevention committees in the Northern Health Authority and the Provincial Eating Disorders Network. Clinic staff provide education workshops for professionals in the Prince George community , as well as providing consultations and liaison for the region.

Youth Mental Health and Addictions Services

1308 Alward St - 2nd Floor Prince George, BC
V2M 7B1
Phone: (250) 649-7660 Fax: (250) 649-7662

Prince George Youth Mental Health and Addictions Community Services consists of two service delivery areas:

1. Early Psychosis Identification and Treatment:

We provide a range of services to both youth and adults who have experienced a first break psychotic episode. People can be referred by someone they know or by themselves.

  • A holistic-needs assessment, client-centered treatment plan, and relapse prevention plan are developed.
  • We work cooperatively with other services such as Intersect, MCFD, Addiction Services, and community programs such as Reconnect, Canadian Mental Health, BC Schizophrenia Society, etc.
  • We provide education to the family and to the client regarding the illness, treatments, and effects of illicit drug use as well as prescribed medications for the illness.

Ongoing family support:

  • One-on-one case management and group support.
  • Liaison with local inpatient programs.
  • The length of treatment is dependent on the person’s response to treatment.

We operate a Surviving Psychosis group weekly for individuals in recovery. This is a peer support and life skill focused group.

The Team Approach:

Services are delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of a Registered Nurse, Case Managers, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist.

Referrals to vocational and recreational rehabilitation services are also available. As well, referrals to other community agencies and supports are done on an as-needed basis.

Provides assessment and assertive community outreach support services to individuals who have experienced a first break psychotic episode. Services are provided to both youth and adults living within the Prince George area. Consultation is also available to the Northern Health region.

Referrals come from anyone who is querying psychosis in someone they know or themselves.

Services are offered by a multi-disciplinary team of a Registered Nurse, Case Managers, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist. A holistic needs assessment is comprised and client centered treatment plan and relapse prevention planning is developed.

Complexity of the cases usually requires co-case management with other service providers, i.e. Intersect, MCFD, Addiction Services and community programs such as Reconnect, Canadian Mental Health, BC Schizophrenia Society, etc.

2. Youth Community Outpatient Services and Assertive Case Management:

Provides services to youth aged 13-19 who are misusing substances and individuals with co-occurring disorders in the Prince George area. Prince George Youth Community Services consists of two service delivery areas:

1. Assertive Case Management

2. Prevention Services

Services are offered by a multi-disciplinary team of a Registered Nurse, Case Managers, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist.

Services are delivered in an assertive outreach model in effort to engage with youth in non-traditional clinic settings. The complexity of cases usually requires co-case management with other service providers such as Intersect, MCFD, and community programs such as YAP and Reconnect.

Assertive Case Management:

Services are provided to youth aged 13-19 who are misusing substances and individuals with co-occurring disorders.

In cooperation with the client, we develop holistic needs assessments, client-centered treatment plans, and development and relapse prevention plans that work from a strength-based approach.

  • We maintain linkages to community partners and agencies and, where appropriate, work together with them to provide the best possible service.
  • We manage referrals to appropriate inpatient services either locally or provincially.
  • We provide education to families and individuals on substance use and related problems.
  • We provide ongoing family support.
  • Young people can access one-on-one and group support.
  • We operate a Relapse Prevention group for youth who want to use harm reduction strategies to stop or decrease their substance use.

Prevention:

Awareness presentations and information sessions are provided for the community.

Also provided:

  • Current literature on substances of abuse.
  • Current literature on special programs to address risk factors that allow substance-use-related problems to occur.
  • Help to develop and support preventive factors that push back against the development of problems.
  • We engage in ongoing collaboration with community partners to establish a coordinated drug prevention strategy.
  • We also provide education on substance-use-related problems and on mental health issues to other services in the community.

Additional Resources

Nutrition

Good nutrition is important to people of all ages, especially for active, growing children! Well-nourished children and adolescents are more likely to learn better, be active, and maintain their health as adults.

Schools have the ability to directly influence a student's health. This is why the Northern Health Population Health Dietitians are working with schools to promote school environments that foster good nutrition. The Dietitians are available to offer their nutrition expertise, help establish nutrition programs such as the BC Farm to School Salad Bar Program or to help implement the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools.

Please stay tuned for more School Nutrition information that will launch on this site for the upcoming fall season.

If you would like more information to encourage schools in your area to jump on board with nutrition programs, please contact a Population Health Dietitian at PopHthNutrition@northernhealth.ca

Additional Resources

Influenza

 

Injury Prevention

 

Nursing Support Services

The Nursing Support Services Program (NSSP) supports parents and teaches non-nurse caregivers to provide special health-related care for children (0 to 19years of age) with special health care needs.

This care supports children to lead an active and healthy life in their community. It also ensures safe consistent care and appropriate health supports. The program is delivered by NSS Coordinators in homes, schools, and/or child care settings.

Supports include:

  • Information and consultation on health care issues.
  • Assessment, planning and evaluation of community care for special health care needs.
  • Training and monitoring of alternate caregivers to provide special aspects of the child's care that require interventions (e.g. gastrostomy tube feeds, blood glucose monitoring, clean intermittent catherization, oral suctioning, seizure management, etc).
  • Collaboration with families and other community resources, such as social workers, physiotherapists and teachers, to ensure appropriate services and supports are in place.

Anyone can refer a child to Nursing Support Services. For more information or to make a referral please call:

  • Northern Interior - Prince George - (250) 612-4519 or (250) 565-7391
  • Northeast - Dawson Creek - (250) 719-6500
  • Northwest- Terrace - (250) 631-4200

Additional Resources

Sexual Health

Sexual health is an important part of overall health and well being and includes:

  • healthy relationships
  • self esteem
  • intimacy
  • pleasure
  • decision making
  • maintenance of reproductive health

Sexual health is a basic human right and is important across the lifespan. Everyone, including youth, has the right to the information and skills needed to prevent negative sexual health outcomes, including sexual abuse/assault, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.  As children and youth begin to develop their sexuality, support and resources that promote positive and healthy sexuality and informed decision-making are important.

In order to promote positive sexual health, it is recommended that parents:

  • Be aware that they give messages about sexual health from the time their child is born, whether they talk to their child or not. When young children first ask about their body parts and facts of life, it is important the first answers that they get are the right ones.
  • Be aware of what is going on with your child or teen.  Know the books they are reading, the music they are listening to and what they are doing on the computer. Discuss their relationships with their peers and keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your child.
  • Ensure your child or teen has accurate and correct information about sexuality and sexual health. If your child is taught about sexual health at school, ensure you follow up and discuss at home as well.

If you need more information or additional resources regarding sexual health, please contact your local public health unit .

Additional Resources

Speech and Language Program

 

Resources

     

Other Helpful Information, Resources and Websites

     
 
     

Teacher Reacher Newsletter