Red Deer Public Schools are putting extra focus on student mental health after two difficult pandemic years.
Three more staff to support mental health were recently hired by the district, which increased counsellor time to help support students. By partnering with Alberta Health Services, the district also gained a therapist who can be accessed both in school and the community.
As well, all 1,500 Red Deer Public Schools staff have been trained in a program called Go To Educator to identify, support, triage and refer students who may be battling mental health challenges, and have had trauma training with AHS.
Mental health lessons have also become part of the mandatory student curriculum.
“It’s important that we support the whole child,” said Nicola Golby, associate superintendent of student services with Red Deer Public.
“Our teachers, our administrators, and our support staff have been on the front line of helping our students and families continue to learn, despite the difficulties that the pandemic brought.”
The goal is to ensure each student reaches full potential and is set up for success, she added.
To help with staff wellness, the division has a policy that eliminates non-urgent emails and texts on evenings and weekends, as well as Staff Learning Days, and other workplace wellness initiatives.
All Red Deer Public schools are equipped with wrap-around services, beginning with learning teams made up of school administrators, educators, community liaison workers, counsellors “to ensure each and every student is well taken care of and are supported mentally, emotionally and physically.”
The district also has speech and language therapists, a contracted psychologist, and help for students who are deaf or hard of hearing or visually impaired. “We are proud to offer these …support services for our students. If your child is struggling, talk with their teacher,” added Golby.