Education minister Stephen Lecce had some good news for Ontario students today. In honour of World Mental Health Day, Lecce announced this morning that Ontario will be investing $25 million into bringing 180 front line mental health workers to public schools. This will include social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists to improve mental health in Ontario schools.
This investment is double the dollar amount of last year's, according to the news release. There are some staggering statistics that should come as a reality check in a world where students are finding it difficult to cope with all sorts of personal problems.
In Ontario, 70% of mental health and addictions issues begin in childhood or adolescence, says the same news release. One in five students in grades 7-12 rate their mental health as fair or poor. This is evident in the recent news of the Hamilton tragedy in which a 14-year-old student lost his life to bullying.
"Too many students are struggling with their mental health and well-being," said Minister Lecce. "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."
Ontario will be allocating $25 million to put 180 mental health workers in secondary schools (social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists). They will also put $6.5 million to Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, where Devan Selvey was a student.
The statement says that $3 million will be given to well-being and mental health programs in all district school boards throughout the province. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada will be receiving $1.5 million with another $1 million going to Kids Help Phone. The full breakdown can be found here.
According to CBC, Mayor Tory of Toronto also spoke out about this today. He said, "On World Mental Health Day, I am pledging to continue to advocate for additional funding for mental health and addictions treatment."
In a statement he tweeted, he calls on the federal government to provide more funding for issues like mental health in Toronto, and that it should not solely be the responsibility of municipal governments.
Tory added that he will be meeting with mayors from across the GTA next month in order to collectively come up with responses to the growing problem that mental health and addiction are proving to be in our communities.
There has been no mention of when we can expect front line mental health workers to be officially on duty in public schools. Narcity has reached out to a representative at the Ministry of Education and we will update this information when we hear back.