Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools supported by communities, says Alberta premier
School-based addiction and mental health programs are having a positive impact in communities throughout Alberta, according to Premier Alison Redford.
“Alberta’s Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative leads the way in providing innovative mental health strategies for children, youth and families because it integrates mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services in a school-based setting,” said Premier Alison Redford.
“The success of the initiative is due in great part to the community support the projects receive.”
Alberta’s Provincial Mental Health Plan identified several areas of high priority in the mental health system, including a focus on children and youth. As a result, the Mental Health Capacity Building initiative was created and started with five pilot sites in Alberta.
Over the past five years, the initiative has grown to 38 projects in 119 schools in 47 Alberta communities, including the KEYS to Empowering Youth to Succeed program at F.R. Haythorne Junior High School in Sherwood Park.
Because of this collaboration, the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative is resulting in improved overall health, increased student success and a more resilient population.
“These projects help children and youth cope with their problems and challenges and teach them where to go if they need support,” said Fred Horne, health and wellness minister.
“The in-school location of the programs is a key strength of the model in promoting awareness and access. This awareness should encourage discussion about mental health among young people, which in turn will reduce stigma about this issue.”
A recent evaluation of the program, including feedback from 21,899 children, youth, parents, educators, service providers and community members, shows overwhelming support in project communities. Mental health and wellness services are now more accessible to children, youth and families while stigma around mental illness is decreasing. For information and the evaluation report, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/2754.asp.
The initiative supports the five strategic directions set out in Creating Connections: Alberta’s Addiction and Mental Health Strategy and the Children’s Mental Health Plan.
The cornerstone elements of the initiative dovetail with the goals identified by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services to improve access to addiction and mental health treatment, and to increase the emphasis on prevention and health promotion in the community.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Markham began his journalism career writing columns in the mid-1980s for Western People Magazine, then reported for a small Saskatchewan daily. He has spent most of his career in media and communications, likes to dabble in politics, was actively involved in economic development for many years, thinks that what goes on in the community is just as important as what happens provincially and nationally, and has a soft spot for small business (big business, not so much). Markham is a bit of a contrarian and usually has a unique take on the events of the day.