By Sulz, Dave on January 2, 2020.
Promotion and prevention are the focus of a new program that Holy Spirit Catholic School Division has launched this school year to support mental health for all division students and the people they love.
“We want to make sure that our students are aware of what mental health is,” remarked Michelle MacKinnon, Director of Support Services for Holy Spirit Catholic School Division. “We all know to go see a health professional for regular checkups for our physical health, but we need to teach that mental health checkups are just as important. This program will give our students quality resources to really dig into what it means to be mentally healthy. More importantly, it will stress how important it is to seek help when needed – something that the stigmas around mental health and illness in our society make really difficult.”
The current implementation of the program is largely the result of a generous Mental Health Capacity Building Grant that has been organized by Alberta Health Services.
“Holy Spirit’s was one of the five successful projects that Alberta Health Services accepted to support Mental Health Capacity Building,” explained Co-ordinator of Counselling and Wellness Anita Lethbridge Gross. “I believe that we were primed to receive this grant because we are already so focused on the importance of brain-informed practice and collecting data that helps improve our service to students.”
As a result of these funds, manager Shelly Kruger has been hired to get the division off to a great start. “Our first step,” noted Kruger, “is to survey our students to establish a baseline for what they already know about mental health and where to go for help. Then the really exciting work begins.”
Superintendent Chris Smeaton agreed that the benefits of this program are clear and long-lasting. “The work that has already been done to bring this program to Holy Spirit is nothing short of amazing. We know that we need to do better to ensure the future health of our students in every way possible – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This will bring to the forefront the importance of introducing mental health literacy to our students early in their lives, setting them up for success.”
Holy Spirit Catholic School Division looks forward to hosting a number of evening events that will support families in supporting their children and learning more about mental health.
More information will be posted on division media channels as soon as it is available.