Mandate the availability of mental health counselling in schools in SK
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What we want done:
All government officials should be mandated to take mental health awareness training (such as Mental Health First Aid)
All schools should have mandatory mental health counsellors/social workers, receiving exclusive specific funding, that students can access at the school.
It's time that our youth be involved in decision making that affects them. Government officials need to hear from youth when determining what is best for them.
In Prince Albert, SK, the Catholic School Division decided to terminate their contract with a local agency, Catholic Family Services, that provided mental health counselling to students right in their schools.
This comes as a result of the major budget cuts that the province imposed upon the school divisions. School divisions are now forced to decided between essential programs and services in the schools.
Mental health support should not be an option... it is a necessity. Although children can still access counselling in the community, many barriers significantly limit children's access to these services. Some examples of barriers include no transportation, parents/caregivers unable (or unwilling) to take kids to appointments, longer wait times, kids not being comfortable disclosing to parents/caregivers that they need counselling, etc.
Having counsellors in schools allowed teachers and other school staff to refer children who appear to be experiencing mental health problems or mental illness to in-school support services. Children were also able to seek out the counsellors themselves which helps set the foundation for our children to proactively access mental health supports later on in life.
When the contract was terminated, there were approximately 200 open files of kids accessing the services and many schools had wait lists. This demonstrates the need for this program.
70% of young adults who have mental illnesses state that they began experiencing symptoms in childhood or their teen years. Recovery and treatment of mental illness is possible but requires appropriate interventions and this change that the school board has made is erecting more barriers to resources; the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
Mental health problems and mental illness is identified by many teachers as the main interference to classroom productivity. The loss of school counsellors puts added responsibilities and stresses on teachers and school staff which will undoubtedly contribute to higher chances of occupational burn out.
The government should have specific funding available for these types of services. Mental health needs to be destigmatized and prioritized at the government level in order to ensure that people (especially our children) are receiving appropriate levels of care.
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