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School Counseling Services

Resolution Number: 2017-01
Submitted by: Englewood Home and School Association

WHEREAS according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 70% of adults with mental illness report that their symptoms first appeared in childhood and adolescence, and an estimated 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness or disorders; and

WHEREAS    the most common mental health disorders affecting children – anxiety and depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders – affect students’ quality of life and the ability to benefit from their school experience; and

WHEREAS    research has shown that early intervention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders can reduce negative outcomes and allow children to develop the resilience needed to cope with life’s difficulties.  Without early intervention, the potential results of mental illness – serious impairment, substance abuse, unemployment, homelessness, poverty and suicide – can be costly to the individual and society; and

WHEREAS    one of five interconnected strategic priorities in PEI’s new Mental Health and Addiction Strategy is “Invest early – focus on children, young people and families”; and

WHEREAS    school counsellors may be the only resource available to students and their families in rural communities and are often the first point of contact in identifying problems that need immediate or more intense treatment; and

WHEREAS    the current allotment of school counselors in Prince Edward Island schools (1 per 400 students) is insufficient to address the mental health needs of Prince Edward Island school children.  School counsellors are forced to be reactive rather than delivering programs aimed at preventing mental health issues and building resilience; and

WHEREAS    counsellors in PEI schools can spend as little as two days per week in a school, making it difficult to establish familiarity with the student body and develop relationships needed for success.  Teachers, administrators and staff deal with students’ mental health needs on days when school counselors are not present.  This places additional stress on the teachers who lack the time and training to deal with serious issues of mental health and puts the child at risk if imminent problems are unaddressed; and

WHEREAS    mental health needs of students has been a topic of discussion in meetings of the newly established PEI District Advisory Councils; and

WHEREAS    the Province just signed a new Health Accord with the Federal Government in which 20.5 million is allocated for mental health initiatives over 10 years; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEI Home and School Federation request the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Minister of Health and Wellness improve access to counseling services in Prince Edward Island schools, with an emphasis on providing proactive programs to support children and youth mental health and wellness in schools and communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEI Home and School Federation request the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to demonstrate its commitment to youth mental health by establishing a target of one School Counsellor to 250 students.

Status: Passed with Amendments
Saturday, April 8, 2017

Destination:Canadian Mental Health Association, PEI Division
Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture
Department of Health and Wellness
Health PEI
Public Schools Branch

Education, Early Learning and Culture:
The Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture (EELC) recognizes the importance of addressing mental health for students. Student well-being is one of the education system's three overarching goals. Government, in collaboration with the DEELC and the Department of Health and Wellness have invested funding to assist schools in addressing this issue through a Student Well-Being Support Program. New supports for students will be introduced, building on governments's recently-released Mental Health Strategy. These changes will be fully implemented over three years, beginning with the Montague and Westisle Families of Schools this fall. These initiatives will reduce wait times, improve service coordination, increase awareness of supports available, increase the focus on prevention, and ultimately result in better outcomes for youth and families. This level of support for schools will help Guidance outcomes for youth and families. This level of support for schools will help Guidance Counsellors in their regular work to attend to students experiencing mental health challenges. In reference to the school counsellor allocation, the Education Authority Staffing and Funding Minister's Directive stipulates that 1(one) counsellor is allocated for every 400 students. From that funding, the education authorities allocate the counsellors to the schools.