Island students will receive new supports through the 2017-18 provincial budget to help them overcome challenges that can impact their performance in school.
Student well-being was identified as a priority by principals, District Advisory Councils, the Learning Partners Advisory Council, and the public throughout the recent public school review. Government is responding by establishing school health teams in each family of schools.
“When a student is dealing with mental health issues, problems at home or other challenges, it is hard for that child to do his best in school,” said Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Doug Currie. “Our new Education and Health budgets include funding for new school-based mental health professionals, nurses, youth workers, and occupational therapists who will work with students to support their social and emotional development and their success in school.”
Beginning in Westisle and Montague this coming September, the school teams will each reflect the unique needs of the community. When fully implemented in all families of schools by 2019, the Student Well-being Initiative will be supported by annual funding of more than $5 million.
The Westisle and Montague teams will be led by a mental health therapist who will assess students and provide clinical coordination. The teams will also include:
- two school health nurses to support students in need, while increasing the focus on prevention and promotion and reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health;
- two youth workers who will help students at school and at home to address such challenges as addictions, behavioural problems and relationship issues; and
- two occupational therapists who will help students to participate in the full breadth of school activities – from paying attention in class, to holding a pen or musical instrument, to focusing on the task at hand.
Minister Currie said students and parents on the District Advisory Councils asked government to provide better access to these services, to better coordinate them, and to locate them in schools where children are.
“Through this new and collaborative approach with our colleagues in Health, Justice and Family Services, we are expanding student access to supports, reducing wait times and eliminating barriers such as transportation to services,” said the minister. “Student well-being is one of the three pillars of our department and one of our three school goals. The school health teams will build on the excellent work that schools are doing to give Island children and youth a better chance at success in school and in life.”
School health teams will be established in the Colonel Gray , Souris and Morell, and Bluefield families of schools in 2018-2019; and in the Charlottetown Rural, Kinkora and Kensington, and Three Oaks families in 2019-2020.
“The Canadian Mental Health Association – PEI is pleased to learn of the investments being made in Island schools to help address the increasingly complex needs of our youth, “ said CMHA PEI Executive Director Reid Burke. “Making provisions for earlier and more expedient access to care is definitely a step in the right direction in helping shape and improve the life trajectories of our more vulnerable youth. CMHA-PEI looks forward to assisting in this important work.”