The government of Alberta is promising $5 million to hire staff and build school-based community health programs.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman made the announcement Monday morning.
“We’ve heard from concerned parents and educators of a growing need for counselling and other mental health programming,” she said. “Making sure kids receive these supports is key to setting them up for future success.”
Currently, the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools Initiative supports 37 school-based mental health programs, helping around 65,000 students. The additional money will develop up to 15 more programs to help more than 100,000 students across the province.
“I’m so pleased to see this new funding going to such an important cause that will truly make a difference for students across this province,” Education Minister David Eggen said.
Mental health staff will work with children and youth struggling with a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, self-esteem and relationships. They will also work as “crucial links” to other mental health programs already at work in the health-care system.
According to the government, the program will help reduce stigma and increase resiliency so children are “better able to manage stress and any challenges they may experience that could increase their risk for future substance use and mental health issues.”
“The mental health of children, youth and their families affects us all,” Dr. Verna Yu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services said. “This funding allows us to expand and improve the mental health services young Albertans need.”
Schools looking to apply for funding to hire mental health staff will have to wait as the government says the application process will get underway this summer.