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$87 million announced for mental health and pediatric support

Red Deer Advocate - 7/29/2022

The Alberta government announced $87 million in mental health and addiction care as well as pediatric rehabilitation support for youngsters.

New funding of $42 million over three years will increase access to mental wellness supports and clinical mental health supports in schools.

In addition, $45 million over three years in new funding will increase access to pediatric rehabilitation services and programs such as speech-language, occupational and physical therapy.

"Children and youth in Alberta deserve the opportunity to improve their mental health and be supported in their wellness. As part of a recovery-oriented system of care, we are ensuring that kids have the supports they need in schools to achieve their full potential and live healthy and happy lives," said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis in a statement accompanying the funding announcement.

"When students experience positive mental health, they are resilient and better able to learn, achieve success and build healthy relationships. Ensuring students have additional access to more mental health services and programs, including preventative and early intervention services, is essential and adds to the wide variety of supports already available in schools," said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in a statement.

The $42 million in mental health supports will be available this school year to communities in the Calgary and Edmonton zones as part of the plan to scale up and expand these services across the province.

For students with more complex needs, specialized clinical services will be available through new mental health classrooms. Mental health classroom teams will consist of a mental health therapist, psychiatrist and classroom behavioural specialist. The teams will be supported by a health team that includes a nurse, social worker, educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, and occupational therapist.

These services will first be established in select schools in the Edmonton zone, with more to follow across the province.

These new mental health supports are in addition to the up to $10 million per year for 2022-23 and 2023-24 that has been allocated to support pilot projects focused on improving delivery of mental health supports and services for students, and tools, training and resources for the school community.

Another $45 million will go to pediatric rehabilitation services and programs such as speech-language, occupational and physical therapy.

This is in addition to the government's investment of up to $10 million per year for 2022-23 and 2023-24 to support increased access to specialized assessments to ensure children and students can be assessed by qualified professionals including speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists or psychologists.