Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government is investing in targeted mental health supports for the well-being of students during this pandemic, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.
“School divisions, parents and mental health agencies report that staff, students and families are experiencing increased stress, such as feeling isolated and anxious, since the onset of COVID-19 last March,” said Goertzen. “We are always concerned with student well-being and wellness but at this time, it is more important than ever that there are programs and funding in place to help ensure mental health supports are available in a comprehensive pandemic planning response.”
The province will invest over $600,000 for mental health supports including:
• $75,000 for the Sources of Strength program that has the potential to reach 10,000 students in grades 7 to 12 and provides staff wellness training that will be open to all school divisions;
• $50,000 to Kids Help Phone to add up to 20 more classrooms for its Counsellor in the Classroom program and staff to respond to increased contacts children and youth via text and Facebook; and
• $100,000 has been allocated to work with school divisions and education stakeholders to support workplace mental health and wellness including support for teachers and staff to address the social-emotional impacts COVID-19 within the school community.
“At Kids Help Phone, we know that 2020 has been an unprecedented and challenging year for students in Manitoba. We hear from over a thousand young people in the province on our front lines every month discussing relationship issues, anxiety or stress, depression, suicide and isolation,” said Katherine Hay, president and CEO, Kids Help Phone. “We would like to thank the government of Manitoba for its continued partnership that prioritizes student mental health and well-being in its funding of Kids Help Phone’s counselling and support services as well as our Counsellor in the Classroom program. Together, at a time when virtual support services are so critical, these commitments ensure students know that 24-7 free, bilingual, confidential support is always available, no matter when or where.”
The province has already committed $400,000 through the Remote Learning Support Centre for new student services clinicians to work alongside department specialist consultants to:
• provide direct, individual support to students struggling with mental health needs in the remote learning environment;
• collaborate with school clinicians from catchment school divisions to ensure appropriate supports are provided for students and their families; and
• help families to connect with mental health agencies and supports outside the school system, as needed.
Students, families and educators will be able to contact the team starting Jan. 4, 2020, at email@example.com.
“Our students and school staff have done a tremendous job working through the challenges of the past few months and we know adapting to these measures has not been easy,” said Goertzen. “We are working with our education leaders in Manitoba to ensure supports are available as we enter a critical time for staff and students to recharge going into the next semester and we look forward to partnering with key stakeholders to take action early in the new year.”