Provincial ministers Judy Darcy and Rob Fleming were at Esquimalt High School Wednesday to announce a three-year investment of $8.87 million for mental wellness programs in B.C. schools. (File Photo)

$8.87 million for mental health programs, resources in B.C. schools

Provincial funding available to all 60 B.C. school districts

B.C. ministers were at Esquimalt High School Wednesday to announce increased funding B.C.-wide for student mental health initiatives.

The province is investing $8.87 million over the next three years to improve access to enhanced wellness supports and programs.

READ ALSO: Post-secondary institutions work to address student anxiety, offer support

“Students need a safe place to say, ‘I’m not ok’, whether they’re struggling with anxiety or depression or any mental health issue,” said Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions, in a statement. “This investment will help provide students, parents and educators with the tools they need to support mental well-being for students across B.C. for years to come.”

The funding will offer grants to independent schools and all 60 of B.C.’s school districts for supports such as staff training, student workshops, family information nights or the development of new resource materials for educators and families.

Greater Victoria School District 61 board chair Jordan Watters said it is “critical that our students and staff are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to understand their own mental health, as well as the social and emotional wellness of others.”

Waters added, “we know that feeling a sense of belonging in our schools and a greater connection to the community is vital in creating safe and embracing spaces that enable student learning.”

READ ALSO: Inaugural conference puts focus on B.C. students and their mental health

Schools will be asked to focus on initiatives related to mental health literacy and programs that respond to the effects of trauma along with social and emotional learning.

The three-year funding commitment will also support the third annual 2020 School Community Mental Health Conference, which brings together about 500 educators, community leaders and mental health authorities and workers.

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