Catholic Division denied funding for Bridging Mental Health Supports pilot

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The Prince Albert Catholic School Division has been denied funding for a two-year Bridging Mental Health Supports pilot project.

Education Minister Dustin Duncan responded to the request in a letter included in the board meeting agenda package. Director of education Lorel Trumier relayed the correspondence at the board of education’s regular meeting on Monday.

“We had proposed a pilot to the Ministry of Education and part of it may be just the wrong funding time,” Tumier said. “We did do it in the summertime, and by then all of the commitments are made.”

Trumier said they are trying to support students in any way they could. This possible pilot project was just one example. She said they’re going to rethink their approach and try again.

“We know that we have got a response from the Minister, but I think there are opportunities for us to try to tweak what the pilot would look like and find different ways to make it achievable,” she said.

In his letter, Duncan wrote that the work of Catholic Family Services, which is funded through the Ministries of Justice, Social Services and Corrections and Policing, provides the services addressed in the pilot project. He states that the focus of the Ministry of Education is to address the educational needs of students rather than therapeutic actions that better align with other human service ministries. Therefore, the Ministry of Education was not in position to fund the proposal.

“You heard that the therapeutic response is not one that is necessarily what schools are doing and granted that is true,” Trumier said. “We just need to understand what are the ways we can (offer) support, and find the ways to do it.”

Trumier said the government’s decision was a bit of a setback, but that won’t stop the division from trying to create a program.

“It doesn’t stop us from trying to look at solutions and ways to support (students),” she said. “Sometimes (it involves) out of the box thinking. There will be other opportunities that we can bring to the table and try to refine what we are doing and try and get better at it.”

Duncan did congratulate them on their success with the Mental Health Capacity Building Initiative application and their passion for working towards mental health goals.

“Sometimes we have a setback but it might get us to a better place,” Trumier said. “We have got to refine what we are thinking and doing so that we can meet the needs of our students better.”