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Supporting Mental Health: Wolf Creek Public Schools utilizing $400,000 mental health grant for two year pilot project

Wolf Creek Public Schools will hire three social emotional learning facilitators as part of a two-year pilot project aimed at adding much needed support for student mental health.

The social emotional learning facilitators will provide direct, universal, strength-based and evidence-based programming to engage and teach students and build capacity for staff and parents.

“Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and a high priority for Wolf Creek. Students are able to build healthy relationships, and develop skills and knowledge to manage emotions through SEL,” said Barb Reaney, WCPS director of safe and caring schools.

The pilot project will include a great deal of community collaboration with agencies beyond the school district. The Wolf Creek Primary Care Network, Rural Mental Health, AHS Population Public Health Addictions and Mental Health Promotion, Neighbourhood Place, and Red Deer Polytechnic are among the agencies that can provide resources for building capacity in students, staff and parents.

“Our hope is to build a user-friendly resource for staff and families that would allow them to know what services and supports are available and how to access them,” said Reaney.

Additional training in suicide intervention, risk management and post intervention will also be held for staff in schools throughout the district. This training will include Violent Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and psychological first aid training for district staff, school staff and community partners.

“This level of training is vital, as it equips staff and partners with the tools to help students in day-to-day issues that impact mental health, but also in serious incidents where intervention is timely and follow up equally important,” said Reaney.

Mental health concerns have been a priority for the district for a number of years, as the Board of Trustees has advocated for more funding to address these needs. Post COVID, these concerns continue to be underscored in students and Reaney said the grant will go a long way to helping develop strategies that can be used long term.

“We are very appreciative of the partnerships we have to address mental health in the district and in our communities. Students and families are asking for these supports and we are grateful that the Alberta Government has made the grant available to school divisions,” she said.

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