Mental health and wellness program expands to include 2 Prince Albert schools

Catholic Division approved for renovations on St. John Community School

A program that promotes positive mental health in students is expanding to include two Prince Albert schools, as well as three others in Saskatchewan.

Following a successful pilot project, the Mental Health Capacity Building initiative will be bringing the number of schools taking part in the program up to 10 this fall.

“The initiative promotes positive mental health in children, youth, families and people in the community who interact with children by focusing on prevention and mental health promotion, early identification and intervention,” reads a media release from the Province of Saskatchewan. “It also helps young people better manage their feelings and increase awareness of where they can find help.”

Prince Albert Collegiate Institute and St. John Community School in Prince Albert have both been selected for the program’s expansion, along with Churchill Community High School in La Ronge, Weyburn Comprehensive High School in Weyburn, and Dr. Brass School in Yorkton. 

These schools serve as resource hubs, giving students access to a range of mental health promotion and programming through collaboration between schools, communities and health care providers.

Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division board chair Barry Hollick welcomed the decision.

“We are fully supportive of this Mental Health Capacity Building initiative and are pleased that the ministries of Health and Education can support this program which is being led by the Saskatchewan Health Authority,” Hollick said in a press release. “The program guidelines and its inclusion of professional staff will provide our students and school communities the opportunity to benefit from this valuable program.”

The provincial government has invested an additional $800,000 in 2022 and 2023 for Mental Health Capacity Building, bringing yearly funding to $2 million.

The Mental Health Capacity Building program is led by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), with support from the Ministries of Health and Education. The initiative addresses recommendations outlined in Saskatchewan’s Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. 

School divisions will receive funding from the SHA to hire Mental Health Capacity Building staff, including a school coordinator and wellness promoter, to work in the schools. Staff members are responsible for delivering mental health promotion and prevention programming; building capacity in others who work with children, youth and families; and supporting students through connection to community resources and supports.

According to the province, this school-based prevention and promotion program was recommended by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, and helps build resilience in youth, families and communities.

“We are pleased to expand this successful initiative into additional Saskatchewan schools, reaching more students in our province,” said Education Minister Dustin Duncan. “Providing additional mental health support in our schools is essential to provide a positive learning environment for our youth.”