Manitoba providing $1M funding for teacher and student mental health

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As students head back to school, the Manitoba government is putting funding towards mental health supports for students and teachers.

The government announced on Tuesday that it will be putting $1 million towards mental health supports within all school divisions.

As part of the funding, the province said it is focusing on five specific steps, 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 staff.

Breaking down the investment, $380,000 will be allocated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, which plans to provide the support to education staff.

One hundred thousand will go towards Sources of Strength that will help train 50 more educators in the program and expanding it into other secondary schools.

The province will give $40,000 to SafeTalk, which will train another 50 educators who will then train students age 15 and up, as well as teachers and parents, about suicide prevention and intervention.

Eighty thousand will be put towards development of addressing the effects of long-term trauma caused by the pandemic, and lastly $150,000 will be used for pilot projects to enhance engagement with elders and knowledge keepers in schools.

Audrey Gordon, the minister of Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery, said the province understands how COVID-19 has impacted students and teachers over the last year and a half.

 "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," she said.

 Marion Cooper, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association for Manitoba, said mental health is a human right, and receiving this investment from the province ensures students and teachers are getting the resources required to meet this basic need.

 "With the school divisions having additional supports for mental health programming, that is going to be really catered to the unique needs of those school divisions and recognizing that in different parts of our province, there may be different needs," said Cooper.

 She said once mental health becomes a priority in schools, it will help change the culture of schools and strengthen the caring community within the classroom.