Alberta’s government is providing $87 million over three years to improve access to mental health and pediatric rehabilitation supports for children and youth.
As part of Alberta’s recovery-oriented system of mental health and addiction care, it is essential that children and youth are supported to improve their mental health. This starts by improving access to in-school supports for students. New funding of $42 million over three years will increase access to mental wellness supports and clinical mental health supports in schools.
In addition, Alberta’s government is improving access to pediatric rehabilitation supports for children and youth. New funding of $45 million over three years 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.”
Mike Ellis,Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
“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.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
Mental health supports
An investment of $42 million over three years will expand access to mental health supports for children and youth in schools. These 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.
CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, along with other partners, is supporting the development of an integrated school-based services model. This will offer clear connections to existing community resources to make it easier for Alberta’s families and kids to access the services they need.
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.
This funding will also expand the Integrated School Support Program (ISSP). ISSP provides children and youth with prevention and early intervention supports that help them improve their mental health, wellness and quality of life by building strength and resilience. Led by the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, the ISSP program includes a range of supports in schools such as meal programs, after school care, structured physical education and access to mental health professionals. The new funding will first expand the ISSP to more schools in the Calgary zone, followed by other communities in need across the province.
“CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health is pleased to partner with the government to bring mental health services closer to Alberta kids. CASA has delivered specialized mental health treatment to kids aged three to 18 for more than 30 years. Expanding these services aligns with our vision of a community where all kids have access to timely care and are empowered to thrive.”
Bonnie Blakley, chief executive officer, CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health
“The wraparound, universal services provided through our Integrated School Support Program mean students have access to nutrition, physical education, professional mental health services, and trusted adults and after school care all available within the school. These supports are intended to improve academic performance and the social, emotional and physical well-being of the students. Thank you to the provincial government for supporting this work and providing this opportunity for children and youth to thrive.”
Susan Cron, executive director, Calgary Police Youth Foundation
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.
Pediatric rehabilitation services
An investment of $45 million over three years will increase access and improve the quality of pediatric rehabilitation services and programs such as speech-language, occupational and physical therapy. These supports will be offered by Alberta Health Services across the province in collaboration with early identification efforts in schools.
This funding will support:
- Establishing clear intake, triage and access to services.
- Developing universal and targeted resources and programming for families.
- Expanding eligibility for speech sound delays and disorders and mobility and positioning from birth to 18 years.
- Strengthening pediatric rehabilitation and teams to support care across the continuum.
“Child and Youth Health Services Initiative funding will help AHS to enhance pediatric rehabilitation services in all five health zones. We will work with our health system and community partners to ensure young Albertans have better access to specialized services.”
Elaine Finseth, associate chief allied health officer, Alberta Health Services
“We’re pleased the Alberta government is supporting more school-based mental health services for children and youth. We know mental wellness is a vital component of a kid’s development and setting them up for long-term success.”
Cathie Williams, chair, Board of Trustees, Calgary Catholic School District
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, who may not have had access to specialized assessments during the pandemic, can be assessed by qualified professionals including speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists or psychologists.
This funding supplements other initiatives aimed at ensuring all children and youth in the province have access to a full continuum of recovery-oriented addiction and mental health supports. This includes:
- School-based supports, including pilot projects focused on improving delivery of mental health supports and services for students and tools, training and resources for the school community.
- Initiatives such as Kids Help Phone, 211 Alberta and youth mental health hubs that provide universal services to help young people and their families find the supports they need. Funding to Counselling Alberta and Alberta’s Family Resource Network is also expanding counselling services.
- Services provided through Alberta Heath Services as well as through treatment programs such as the 12-week Youth Recovery Program at Hull Services.
Alberta’s government spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health programs, services and supports.
Alberta’s government has also invested $110 million over three years in targeted education funding to address mental health in schools, specialized assessments and learning loss supports. This is in addition to $1.4 billion in learning supports funding that is provided directly to schools each year to support our most vulnerable children.
- Alberta’s government is providing $87 million over three years for the Child and Youth Health Services Initiative to expand mental health, addiction and rehabilitation services for children and youth.
- Efforts align with the Alberta Child and Youth Well-being Action Plan.
- All children, youth and families have access to addiction and mental health supports. Contact 211 Alberta for information on services available in your community.
- More supports for students affected by the pandemic (June 1, 2022)
- Taking action to support children and youth (May 31, 2022))