Sask. Rivers student trustees urge school division to offer students more time with trained counsellors to improve mental health

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

A group of Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division student trustees say having more access to trained counsellors for longer periods of time would help improve student mental health.

Student trustees Tia-Lee McCallum of PACI and Dan Vidal of WP Sandin in Shellbrook made the suggestion during the April 4 school board meeting. The two students were joined by Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) executive members Emma Arcand of Canwood and Ella McBride of the DLC (Distance Learning Centre).

The division currently has one counsellor per school, but the SRSC says their meetings with students could be longer.

Sask. Rivers education director Robert Bratvold thanked the student trustees for their presentation, and said the board will take the recommendation under advisement as they prepare their upcoming division budget.

The SRSC also said there should be more mental health workshops for students and staff.

Bratvold said the presentation gave trustees plenty of insight into ways the division could strengthen mental health and well-being.

There was also a discussion on the role of student trustees during the board’s regular session. Bratvold said that discussion was needed because the board values the student voice but there are limitations on where that can be heard.

“There are some limitations around laws that govern boards around what has to be confidential for the elected trustees representing the ratepayers in the division,” he explained. “Just to kind of clarify that distinction, I think, was a good conversation.”

Bratvold said that the board is comfortable with the way the student trustee concept pushes the envelope in the province, but is also respectful of the laws that govern them as an elected board.

“(It’s) trying to walk that line and ensure that students know your voice, your contributions, your suggestions are valuable and they do guide the board, but there has to be some limitations on what goes around HR and finances and those sorts of things,” Bratvold said.

SRSC also offered numerous ways to strengthen the Learning and Innovation priority of the strategic plan. Student trustees suggested more diverse class options, and more use of blended learning for self-paced classes.

In the financial portion, the SRSC urged the Board to allocate funds for better WIFI and provide better quality bathroom products.