(Left) Marlin Schmidt minister of advanced education and William Baliko, Students’ Association of Red Deer College president were at Red Deer College library area on Tuesday afternoon. Schmidt announced $205,000 to help Red Deer College students better deal with mental health issues. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Red Deer Advocate.

Province announces $205k for Red Deer College

The funding will be used to improve students’ mental health

Students dealing with stress, depression, anxiety and more at Red Deer College will now be better equipped with improved mental health resources on campus.

The government of Alberta announced $205,000 in to Red Deer College per year for the next three years on Tuesday.

The money will be used to expand existing mental health and well being programs and resources at the college.

Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education was at Red Deer College Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.

“This money will make a difference between thriving and just surviving for many and for some this would make a difference between life and death,” said William Baliko, Students’ Association of Red Deer College president.

Olds College is also receiving $135,000 each year for the next three years to improve mental health supports on campus.

Schmidt said depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and loneliness are real issues among Alberta post-secondary students. He said numbers show one in 10 students consider suicide while one in 50 attempt suicide.

Red Deer College will use the funding to expand essential services at the college. For example, counselling hours will expand beyond the current business hours to make the service more accessible. The plan is to expand addictions counselling as well. The college currently hosts events to raise awareness about mental health and the number of those events may go up, explained Baliko.

“Through a massive consultation process in our institution with our students, we are going to make sure that money makes a difference in the lives of students to get the help and support they need when they need it and how they need it,” said Joel Ward, Red Deer College president and CEO.

Schmidt said the province has allocated additional $400,000 to go towards Indigenous students across the province. It’s not yet known where that money will go.

At Red Deer College the money will be allocated to help all students: practicum students, students with physical or mental disabilities, international and refugee students, and LGBTQ students.

“We know these supports make a difference in the lives of post secondary students,” said Schmidt.

Talking about the stigma, Schmidt said, one of the reasons people don’t come forward with mental health issues is because they are not sure if there are resources available to help them and the funding aims to change that.

The funding is part of the government’s $25.8 million investment to protect and improve mental health resources across the province.

mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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