Saskatchewan is taking steps to improve the mental health of students. Building on a successful pilot project for student mental health in five Saskatchewan schools, the Mental Health Capacity Building initiative will expand to additional schools in the province this fall. 

The provincial government has invested an additional $800,000 in 2022-23 for Mental Health Capacity Building, bringing yearly funding to $2 million. 

“I’m delighted by the success of the pilot project and we are proud to support the initiative’s expansion into more schools across the province, helping reach even more Saskatchewan youth,” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Minister Everett Hindley said. “With government, families, schools and communities working together, we can help to ensure the health and mental well-being of our province’s children and youth.”

The initiative promotes positive mental health in children, youth, families and people in the community who interact with children. It focuses on prevention and mental health promotion, early identification and intervention. It also helps young people better manage their feelings and increase awareness of where they can find help. 

“The mental health of our students is just as important as their physical health,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. “With funding nearly doubling this year, we will be able to expand this successful program into more schools across Saskatchewan.”

Five schools in Saskatchewan were selected as pilot sites for the initiative: Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School in Regina; Hector Thiboutot School in Sandy Bay; North Battleford Comprehensive High School and John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford; and Greenall High School in Balgonie. These schools served as resource hubs, giving students access to a range of mental health promotion and programming through collaboration between schools, communities and health care providers.

“The Mental Health Capacity Building (MHCB) initiative supports the staff of John Paul II Collegiate (JPII) by providing positive mental health and well-being coping strategies that students can use to further their personal growth and development,” Light of Christ Board Chair Glen Gantefoer said. “MHCB supports the culture already in place at JPII through the Following Their Voices and the Strengths and our Faith initiatives, to ensure all students are supported on their journey to develop their individual selves.” 

The Mental Health Capacity Building initiative addresses recommendations outlined in Saskatchewan’s Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. This school-based prevention and promotion program was recommended by the Children’s Advocate and helps build resilience in youth, families and communities.

The Mental Health Capacity Building program is led by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) with support from the Ministries of Health and Education. School divisions receive funding from the SHA to hire Mental Health Capacity Building staff, including a school coordinator and wellness promoter, to work in the schools. Staff members are responsible for delivering mental health promotion and prevention programming; building capacity in others who work with children, youth and families; and supporting students to connect with community resources and supports.

The province’s 27 provincial school divisions are eligible to apply for funding for the 2022-23 school year. Selected schools will be notified in late May, with staff hired and beginning work in September.