Expanded mental health supports for students are coming to one Red Deer school through the provincial government’s Integrated School Support Program.
On Thursday, the Government of Alberta announced the mental health support program will expand to 10 more schools across the province, including G.H. Dawe School in Red Deer, thanks to $4 million in funding through Budget 2023.
“Every student deserves to go to school and experience positive mental health, which is why our government is committed to continuing to work across ministries to develop critical programming and resources to ensure that all students are supported,” said Adriana LaGrange, minister of Education and Red Deer-North MLA.
“Programs such as ISSP, among many other government-funded mental health projects across the province, are all valuable building blocks for a student’s success in and out of the classroom.”
Led by the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, the ISSP offers supports that range from meal programs and structured physical education to after-school care and access to a mental health professional.
This funding is in addition to recently announced funding of $10 million to expand CASA Mental Health Classrooms, a classroom-based program where students with complex mental health needs receive individual and group therapy.
The $4-million expansion of ISSP will take place in two phases. The first phase will include expanding the program to 10 more schools in communities across the province.
ISSP is expected to be available in G.H. Dawe School later this spring.
While the program focuses on prevention and early intervention, children who need additional help will be referred through 211 to other services in their community.
The program is currently offered at four schools in Calgary, supporting students between four and 12 years old. It will be expanded to total of 24 over the next couple of years.
An additional $2.3 million over three years has been allocated to evaluate the impact of ISSP and other child and youth mental health supports provided through the Child and Youth Health Services Initiative. The evaluation will be led by the University of Calgary’s Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education, and findings will inform and improve the delivery of mental health services for children, youth and families across the province.