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Alberta government providing $87M to improve youth mental health in schools

Click to play video: '‘Makes me feel proud of myself’: Integrated School Support Program proving successful at Calgary school' ‘Makes me feel proud of myself’: Integrated School Support Program proving successful at Calgary school
WATCH: The benefits of the Integrated School Support Program are immense. The focus on the social, emotional and physical well-being of students has made a profound difference in the two current schools where it exists. Jill Croteau spent time at one of the elementary schools in Forest Lawn where the success is evident – Jul 28, 2022

The Alberta government will be providing more than $87 million over three years to improve mental health access and rehabilitation supports for children and youth.

In a statement on Thursday, the province said the funding is essential to improve in-school supports and pediatric rehabilitation supports for children and youth.

The funding is in addition to the government’s investment of up to $10 million per year for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years to support specialized assessments for students who may not have had access during the pandemic.

Read more: UCalgary study shines light on youth global mental health crisis

“Every child and youth has the opportunity to improve their mental health as part of a recovery-oriented system of care,” Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said during a news conference on Thursday.

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“We’re ensuring kids have the supports they need in schools to live healthy and happy lives.”

Around $42 million over three years will be used to increase access to in-school resources, which will be available starting this school year to communities in Calgary and Edmonton.

This will include establishing new mental health classrooms, which will provide specialized clinical services for students with more complex needs, the province said.

Read more: Accessibility is key for youth struggling with mental health: U of C

These classroom teams will include a mental health therapist, psychiatrist and classroom behavioural specialist. They will be supported by a health team that includes a nurse, social worker, educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, and an occupational therapist.

These classrooms will be established first in select schools in Edmonton zone, and the province says it will create more throughout Alberta.

“Some children need more help, further highlighting in-school supports are for children’s well-being,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said on Thursday.

Read more: Gaps found in Alberta youth mental health services: University of Lethbridge study

Another $45 million over three years will be used to improve pediatric rehabilitation services.

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Rehabilitation services include programs for speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

The Alberta government said the funding will support four services:

  • Establishing clear intake, triage and access to services.
  • Developing universal and targeted resources and programming for families.
  • Expanding eligibility for speech sound delays and disorders and mobility and positioning from birth to 18 years.
  • Strengthening pediatric rehabilitation and teams to support care across the continuum.

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