Manitoba Government News Release–The province will provide more than $1-million in additional funding for staff and student mental health supports, and work with school divisions to ensure student needs are met, Education Minister Cliff Cullen and Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.
“The impacts of the pandemic are far reaching and continue to be a critical issue for schools, families and communities as students return to school this fall,” said Cullen. “These supports are in addition to the $2.5-million dollars announced last year that was invested to support Manitoba students’ mental health during COVID-19.”
The Commission on K-12 Education and the Better Education Starts Today strategy stressed the importance of student engagement and well-being and recommended the implementation of an intersectoral mental health strategy, addressing the needs of educators and students. The new Manitoba Mental Health in Schools Strategy will be implemented in partnership with school divisions and stakeholders to support school-wide strategies including:
• talking about mental health;
• training for teachers and school staff;
• teaching supports for mental health;
• ensuring appropriate tools and supports are available for students; and
• supports for teachers and school staff.
Manitoba Education in partnership with Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery has allocated this additional $1 million funding to provide a continuum of mental-health supports for students, teachers and other staff who are a part of the education workforce including the following:
• an additional $380,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide supports to the education workforce, including service-navigation specialists, online resources in French and English, and a peer wellness coaching team;
• an additional $100,000 for Sources of Strength in to allow further expansion such as French translation of materials and provide peer-programming training for 50 more educators as well as expanding the number of secondary schools offering the program;
• $40,000 to provide SafeTalk training for 50 educators, who then train students age 15 and over, teachers and parents in suicide prevention and intervention, and also provide for a centralized SafeTalk registry for easy access and resource deployment;
• $80,000 to provide further professional development for educators and leaders that is trauma-informed and culturally relevant to address the effects of long-term trauma caused by the pandemic; and
• $150,000 for pilot projects to support and enhance well-being through the engagement of elders and knowledge keepers in schools.
“We know the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have significantly affected the mental health and wellness of Manitobans of all ages and backgrounds,” said Gordon. “The education community is facing unique pandemic-related situations while continuing the high quality of classroom learning for Manitoba’s students, and this additional funding will help students and support educators as they provide these important services.”
“Supporting the well-being of the education workforce is an important part of creating and strengthening student and school wellness,” said Marion Cooper, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association for Manitoba. “Through this additional investment we will work in partnership with school and division leaders and stakeholders to co-design tailored mental health resources that will be available to enhance the resilience and well-being of the employees of the education system in Manitoba.”
Today’s announcement advances one of the key priorities of Manitoba’s plan for restoring safe schools in 2021-22, in addition to the focus on ensuring health and safety measures in schools such as improving ventilation and providing personal protective equipment. $58 million has been allocated to supporting safe schools in 2021-22, building upon the $185 million allocated during the last school year.
The ministers also noted today’s announcement builds on investments of $50 million since October 2019 in more than 34 initiatives to improve mental health and addictions services throughout the province, including supports for children and youth.
For information on Restoring Safe Schools – Mental Health and Well-Being, resources are available in English at https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/covid/ and in French at https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/m12/covid/index.html.