The Ontario government has announced it will more than double its funding to advance student mental health initiatives.
According to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the province is investing nearly $40 million, and will be working in partnership with education groups.
The government also announced that it will permanently fund approximately 180 frontline mental health workers in secondary schools (social workers, psychologists, and psychotherapists) to reduce wait times and improve access to critical services, an investment of $25 million.
“Too many students are struggling with their mental health and well-being,” said Lecce, on World Mental Health Day.
“I am proud to be a member of this government that is applying a compassionate eye to making mental health a priority by more than doubling mental health supports for our kids.”
In Ontario, 70% of mental health and addictions issues begin in childhood or adolescence, according to the province, and one in five students in grades 7-12 rate their mental health as fair or poor.
“We will continue working hard to ensure that we provide effective mental health programs and services for Ontario’s students,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
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“Too many families have waited too long for the mental health services they require for themselves, and for their children. By investing in frontline programs and services, we will continue moving forward to create a mental health system in Ontario that fully supports our students.”
The Ministry of Education said its funding will go to nine front-line programs with education partners that includes $3 million to well-being and mental health programs through all district school board, $1.5 million to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada, and $1 million to Kids Help Phone.
“Mental health is a key component of an individual’s overall health, so I applaud the government for making these valuable investments,” said Katherine Hay, president and CEO of Kids Help Phone.
“Today’s announcements will make a big difference in the lives of students and their families.”