A $2-million provincewide investment in school-based student mental health will help ensure kids can access support when they need it and that they feel safe and connected at school.
Each of the province’s 60 school districts will receive a portion of the funds, allocated as a school capacity-building grant, to support new and enhance existing school-based mental health programs focused on prevention, wellness promotion and early intervention.
“We are supporting schools to create better access to mental health supports for students,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We are ensuring no matter where students live in B.C., they have access to effective and community-based preventative programming that will set them on positive paths to mental health and wellness.”
School districts will determine how the grants are spent based on their district’s individual needs to enhance existing programs and launch new programs. Examples include staff training sessions, family and caregiver information nights and development of new resource materials for educators, family and caregivers, as well as student activities.
School districts are asked to focus on initiatives related to mental health literacy, programs and supports that recognize and respond to the effects of all types of trauma, social and emotional learning, and the prevention of problematic substance use. School districts will work with their community Indigenous partners in the planning of activities to ensure they are culturally safe and meet the needs of Indigenous youth.
Recipients will be required to submit an action plan report on what their share of the $2 million was spent on and its effect on their respective school community by Jan. 20, 2020.
“Every young person deserves the best possible start in life,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “That’s why these grants are so important. They will allow school districts to make sure more students, teachers and caregivers have the tools they need to support physical, mental, emotional and social well-being during this critical time in a student’s life.”
This is the second round of student mental health-focused school capacity building grants issued to school districts. The previous grants were announced at the 2019 School Community Mental Health Conference and similarly saw $2 million distributed throughout B.C.
The funding was spent in a number of ways. For example:
- SD 79 (Cowichan Valley) created “Calm kits” to support K-3 students to manage stress and achieve emotional well-being throughout the day.
- SD 33 (Chilliwack) organized a school-based Mental Health Strategy Retreat involving 120 educators.
- SD 23 (Central Okanagan) offered training for 20 teachers in Stan Kutcher’s Mental Health Literacy curriculum implementation, as well as training for parents.
- SD 59 (Peace River South) produced a menu of recommended social and emotional learning programs with samples and support for school-wide implementation.
This funding is part of $8.87 million being invested over the next three years to better support student mental health in B.C. schools.
In addition to supporting school districts and independent schools with individual school capacity-building grants, the funding will also support professional development, and the 2020 School Community Mental Health Conference set for May 8, 2020, in Vancouver. This third-annual conference will, once again, bring together approximately 500 representatives of B.C. public, independent and First Nations schools, police, health authorities, and child and youth mental health workers, who are focused on improving mental health and addictions services for all B.C. students.
Chris van der Mark, president, B.C. School Superintendents Association –
“We applaud and are grateful for the ministry’s recognition and support of this important work. Positive mental health is foundational for student success and is vital to the creation of the educated citizen to contribute to society. Many initiatives are already underway in all of our school districts, and this funding will allow us to continue to collaborate with our partners and rights holders to expand the scope and impact for all members of the school community.”
Andrea Sinclair, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –
“We are very supportive of this cross-ministry initiative and increased support for mental health and wellness in school-based programs, which focus on promotion, prevention and intervention. A key component is information and resources for caregivers and families so the support for children can be provided at home and at school. Similar to the Erase strategy, it’s about building safe and caring school communities and removing barriers to ensure all students, in all schools, have equitable access to quality help and support for mental well-being.”
Erase services and resources for students, parents and teachers: www.erase.gov.bc.ca
A backgrounder follows.