Alberta Newspaper Group
Holy Spirit Catholic Schools announced recently that it would be offering more mental health programming to students.
The programming is possible thanks to a grant the school board applied to from Alberta Health Services.
“We really want to look at mental health promotion and prevention,” said Holy Spirit director of support services Michelle MacKinnon. “We’re going to be really providing our students and our communities on what it means to be mentally healthy and to look at all components of mental health.
“We really want people to understand that mental health is not mental illness. We want to put a stop to stigmas around mental health.”
Bow Island’s St. Michael’s School is part of the school district, meaning this programming will positively impact it.
“We’re going to be working with all of our schools,” said MacKinnon. “We want to work with everybody to create strategies and spread information around mental health and how to stay mentally healthy.
“We’re going to work with all of our schools to spread that message of health.”
Because of the grant, the school board has been able to hire a manager to oversee the mental health programming. The school board was also able to hire coaches that will travel to different schools to work with students and teachers.
“We’re going to have universal programming at all of our schools,” she said. “This grant is going to do a lot of good.”
MacKinnon says mental health is always an important topic for the school board.
“We want our students to be mentally healthy, spiritually healthy and physically healthy — not only so they’re good students, but we want to make sure kids are thriving and healthy when they’re leaving our schools,” she said. “We hear students talk about rising levels of anxiety and depression and I think that this approach will help them manage these feelings.”
MacKinnon added that any students dealing with mental health struggles are encouraged to reach out to school employees.
“Help is available,” she said. “We want our students to know that they’re not alone.”