Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. 

If you or someone you know has suicide-related behaviours or thoughts please reach out for help. You can call the CMHA Distress Line at 780-482-4357 at any time of day. 

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) also has several resources, including a panel discussion today. You can find more information on their website at www.suicideprevention.ca.

I believe we all have a role to play in promoting good mental health and in helping to keep each other safe from suicide. This means supporting one another in whatever role we play – parent, teacher, brother, sister, co-worker or elected official.

If elected as your Ward F Public School Board Trustee, I will work to bring more focus on mental health. This includes both students and staff. There is so much to be done.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a tearful parent who was worried that supports for their child in school were inadequate and that they would be at risk for suicide. This fear is partially due to their child’s feeling of not belonging in school, and partially due to some particular learning needs that are not being met. This shouldn’t be the case. 

I’ve also talked to teachers, principals and Specialized Learning Supports (SLS) workers that tell me the referral process for mental health services is not working. Kids age out of the system before they get the help they need. Principals are put in a position to be counsellor when they aren’t trained to be one. They see a family or student is struggling and the only thing they can do is refer them to the Northside Health Centre. This leads to additional barriers to students and their families, who are already struggling. These EPSB folks who work daily in the system also tell me they would gladly make room in their schools for more mental health supports from AHS, if available. 

We need to make sure all students are supported. Students must feel like they belong and that they are welcome in our school communities. They must feel deep down that they are important and have an important contribution to make to our school communities. They also need to know mental health supports will be available when and where they need them.

I will work towards at least one mental health support worker in each EPSB school. I will put my best foot forward to build those partnerships and collaborate with AHS to get the mental health resources our school communities need. I will also work hard to be proactive. This means working towards ensuring our District has the capacity to provide each student with the resources they need to be successful in their learning journey.

Learn more about my priorities, here.