May 9, 2024

Partnership strengthens mental health supports in Alberta schools

Werklund and Cumming schools partner with Calgary Board of Education and Converge Mental Health Coalition to build capacity of student services staff
Battery charging positive thinking and mental health concept brain
The initiative aims to provide standardized and comprehensive care for student wellbeing. Colourbox

In response to mounting mental health challenges among youth, the University of Calgary, in collaboration with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Converge Mental Health Coalition, has launched a project to enhance mental health support within educational settings.

As part of the City of Calgary’s Change Can’t Wait initiative, two centres at UCalgary, the Centre for Wellbeing in Education and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education, are conducting a comprehensive review of research focusing on the crucial skills, knowledge, and competencies student services staff require to nurture adolescent mental health.

"The emergence of mental health challenges among our youth highlights the urgent need for reinforced systems within our schools," says Dr. Jennifer Turner, EdD, Werklund School of Education Centre for Wellbeing director. "Our collaboration with CBE and Converge Mental Health aims to equip student services teams with the necessary tools and training to respond effectively to these challenges." 

Dr. Paul Arnold, MD, PhD, director of the Cumming School of Medicine's Mathison Centre, adds, "Our collaborative research with the CBE will lead to evidence-based programs for students at early stages of developing mental health concerns. With depression, ADHD, behaviour problems, and anxiety common among youth, our targeted interventions, alongside existing strategies like the Go to Educator program, will elevate our support for student mental health." 

The initiative is developing a research-based universal framework for student support, informed by the findings of the environmental scan. This framework will serve as the basis for a professional learning series for student services staff within the CBE. The sessions will help provide more consistent guidance and resources at various levels, ensuring CBE can offer standardized and comprehensive care for student wellbeing.

Joanne Pitman, chief superintendent of schools at the Calgary Board of Education, is eager to introduce the framework and professional learning series in schools across the city, emphasizing the board's commitment to student wellbeing.

"This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to enhance CBE’s ongoing efforts in supporting the positive mental health and wellbeing of students. Student wellbeing is a key priority for our board, and we look forward to piloting the framework and professional learning series in CBE schools.” 

Gena Rotstein, managing director at Converge Mental Health Coalition agrees. "Collaboration is key to addressing the mental health needs of today's youth. By pooling our collective expertise and resources, we can devise innovative solutions to bolster student wellbeing and create a more inclusive and nurturing education environment." 

The professional learning series is a significant step forward in supporting the mental health needs of today's youth and will be piloted at the school level in summer 2024.

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.