Prairie Rose School Division #8, in partnership with our Alberta Health Services Health Promotion Coordinator and all four school divisions in Southeastern Alberta (PRSD8, SD 76, Grasslands, and MHCBE) applied for a cross-jurisdictional grant through the University of Alberta Wellness Fund to provide Go to Educator and Mental Health Literacy training to teachers and administration within southeast Alberta. The grant application was successful, awarding the project $60,000 to be divided among each school division.
The Go To Educator training was developed in 2009 by Dr. Stan Kutcher, Sun Life Chair in Adolescent Mental Health. The “Go-to-Educator” component of this training is based on observation that in each school, there are educators with whom students form good relationships, naturally go to for help, and feel comfortable talking about their problems. Therefore providing training to this group of educators in how to recognize mental disorders can be expected to substantively promote early identification of mental health problems and mental disorders, thus potentially leading to earlier effective interventions of mental health problems and mental disorders. In turn, this can potentially lead to earlier effective interventions and the provision of ongoing support within the school setting to those so identified. These “go-to” educators can include subject teachers, student service providers, principals and other staff members.
The Mental Health Literacy Curriculum Guide provides a complete set of educational tools to increase understanding of mental health and mental disorders among both students and teachers. The guide, developed in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, focuses on training teachers to be comfortable with their own knowledge of mental health and mental disorders. The guide then empowers the teachers to share this knowledge with their students through curriculum delivered in a multiple-media module format. The program uses a variety of interactive sessions that help to promote dialogue among students, as well as with their teachers. Discussing mental health and mental illness in a supportive, familiar environment enables youth to feel safe, ask questions, gain knowledge, combat stigma and develop their own opinions of the world around them.
We are very excited for this opportunity to provide mental health literacy training to teachers and school leaders. We will update everyone once more concrete plans related to professional development of teacher and implementation with students are finalized.
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