Education federation unimpressed with Quebec's plan to improve mental health in schools

mentalhealth

The federation representing 19 unions of Quebec education professionals says the government's mental health plan for students is lacking.

The federation representing 10,000 educational professionals (FPPE-CSQ) criticized the government's announcement Thursday, committing $30 million for mental health in school without increasing professional resources in a news release Sunday.

Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge and Minister for Health and Social Services Lionel Carmant announced the funding and said it was aimed at two protects for the promotion and prevention in mental health and addiction prevention.

The first $15 million is intented for mental health interventions in schools, while the second half will be devoted to addiction prevention in secondary schools. 

The federation is unhappy that the money is for hiring staff from outside the school network.

"This budget, reserved instead for the addition of staff from the health network and the community sector to carry out promotion and prevention interventions in schools, is absurd," the release reads.

The FPPE-CSQ wants more professional staff, specifically psychologists, in the schools .

Assistance from professionals outside the school network is "offensive and incomprehensible," the union says.

"A special and stable budget for mental health in education would have been by far a better solution because it would have made it possible year after year to hire new qualified professionals from the education network," the release continues.

The union has asked for resources specifically for mental health in schools and feels the education and social services ministries' plan falls short.

"The government seems to hope to fill the lack of educational resources with already insufficient resources in the health network, where the waiting lists are far too long and the delays endless," the release reads.

The issues, the union said, are structural in nature and the $30 million will simply plaster over the cracks.

“What we hear is clearly an admission that there is a lack of professional staff in schools. The Quebec government finally recognizes it! We can no longer close our eyes to the urgency to act, especially in the context of a pandemic," said FPPE-CSQ president Jacques Landry. "Why is the government so obstinate and refusing to invest directly in schools and professional staff? This announcement is incomprehensible to us.”

The union said there are just over 700 psychologists working in schools that have between 1,300 and 2,500 students per school.

With just over 700 psychologists in the network, there are between 1,300 to 2,500 students per school psychologist, depending on the setting, which is well below the recommended standards. It is time to recognize the specific expertise that has developed in the school network, and the FPPE-CSQ must be part of the solution.

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