Alberta doubles funding for mental health, learning supports in schools

The province announced Wednesday afternoon that it will be doubling the funding for mental health and learning supports in Alberta’s schools to $40 million.

The funding will go towards pilot projects, the proposals of which were pitched to the government during the summer. The $40 million will be spent over a two-year period on close to 60 of these projects and benefit close to 50,000 students in Alberta.

Schools will work with mental health services to roll out the projects that will support students with social and emotional learning, counselling, and provide training and student assessment for staff, between now and Dec. 2024.

Read more: Alberta government providing $87M to improve youth mental health in schools

“This investment ensures that students across Alberta have adequate access to mental health resources and supports, which will result in a better chance of participating in meaningful learning and relationship building,” said education minister Adriana LaGrange in a statement.

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“Additionally, targeted programming for early elementary learners will support the objective of maintaining on-track development, which may have been previously lost due to interferences in school.”

An additional $10 million will be given to school authorities “to help struggling students get back on track after the pandemic,” with the goal of driving local solutions while gathering information to inform a broader approach to supporting students across the province,” the news release reads.

During the 2021-2022 school year, schools across the province received $45 million to support grade 1-3 students after the pandemic. The additional $10 million in funding for this year will go towards those same students who are now in grade 2-4.

Read more: Professionals preparing for mental health among students as back to school nears

Specialized treatment and support will be provided in-classroom to students with specific needs by CASA mental health teams. These teams will help expand and integrate mental health supports for kids in elementary schools beginning in 2023.

Additional programming will be made available for more schools in the new year.

“Students deserve to feel supported and have access to mental health supports as they complete their K-12 studies,” said Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s newly-appointed minister of mental health and addiction.

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“Through our province’s recovery-oriented system of care, we are taking action to improve the mental health of children and youth and make a difference in their lives.”

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