Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools Initiative highlighted
April 11, 2013
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mental Health Capacity Building Initiative
David Dorward (PC—Edmonton-Gold Bar): “Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was pleased to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the House against bullying and discrimination of any kind anywhere on International Day of Pink. There was a mental health capacity building initiative pilot started in 2006-2007 across 53 communities and 153 schools. The purpose of the initiative is to establish projects that will provide the staffing and support required to implement an integrated school-based community mental health promotion, prevention, and early intervention program. To the Health minister: what outcomes has your ministry seen from this pilot project?”
Minister of Health Fred Horne: “Well, Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. The mental health capacity building initiative is alive and well in Alberta. We have completed an external evaluation, and we’re seeing some very positive results. Most importantly, we are connecting mental health and wellness capacity in our schools with the capacity that exists in the community. The review found that as a result of the initiative we’re seeing improved resiliency and coping skills in children and youth and that, most importantly, people are talking about mental health issues.”
Mr Dorward: “Mr. Speaker, will the government be working on the sustainability of this initiative going forward?”
Mr Horne: “Mr. Speaker, we certainly will, and we’re continuing to provide the necessary funding. The review, as a matter of fact, found that 93 per cent of school administrators reported that they have observed healthier behaviour in students, including better family relations and an increase in prosocial behaviour among students. More than 90 per cent of the youth reported that the program staff assisted them in their ability to cope with problems, so it’s a very successful program. We will continue to support it and do our best to expand it.”
Mr Dorward: “Can you discuss how you measure the success of the program in more detail?”
Mr Horne: “Well, Mr. Speaker, there are performance indicators, and in my last answer I mentioned a couple of the results that we have seen. Obviously, continuing to provide the $60 million for the program is going to be important. We’ve continued to do that since 2005. Also, the ability to tailor the programs to the specific communities and schools they serve to provide services like mentoring, counselling, parent supports, and addiction counselling is critical. Most importantly, we will continue to support the work of the initiative in normalizing the discourse around mental health and addictions issues in our society. If 13-year-olds can talk about it, the rest of us can as well.”
Just because I am quiet, doesn’t mean I’m a snob
This is an assumption that is sometimes made about quiet people. I have stopped myself from making this assumption, because it is one that is often made about me. I have always envied the people who have the gift of gab and can stop and talk to anyone. This is something that I have struggled with throughout my life. I worry about what to talk about, wondering if the person even remembers me, or do they really even like me. This summer I challenged myself venturing out on a trip with a group of ladies and I can already feel myself getting nervous. I know many of them who are going, but I am already thinking, will I have something to talk about, will any of them remember me, do they even like me?
Doesn’t mean I have little to say
Assumptions are made about people’s race, personality, life choices, social connections, jobs, hobbies etc. People are judged by what they appear to be, while inside, people want to scream out, “There is more to me than what you see, if you give me a chance you will see”.
We sometimes fall victim to the assumptions that we think people have of us, feeling insecure in ourselves, having relationship problems, or stopping ourselves from getting the help we need. These can begin early in childhood and carry on throughout life.
I was a bubbly outgoing child, but experiencing bullying in the preteen years, I lost a part of myself and became more quiet and insecure.
Doesn’t mean I am boring
This summer we had our 6th annual girls camp and we asked the girls to write a “Just Because” poem. This poem asks the writer to take a look at the assumptions that they believe others have of them and then challenge those assumptions.
“Just because I’m bullied, doesn’t mean I’m your target also” – Grade 7 student
“Just because I’m different, doesn’t mean I’m weird” – Grade 8 student
“Just because I’m funny, doesn’t mean I think everything is a joke” – Grade 5 students
In the final stanza of the poem, the writer takes a look at the positive characteristics they see in themselves:
“I am wonderful” – Grade 7 student
“I am unique” – Grade 8 student
“I like to make people laugh” – Grade 5 student
Writing and sharing these poems helps the writer to be heard and lets others have a better understanding of themselves. It also helps them to create connections, realizing they are not alone in the way that they feel.
Doesn’t mean I like to be alone
I challenge you to take a look at the assumptions you think others have of you and how it is affecting your life, or how assumptions that you make of others maybe affecting them. Find your positives and scream them out to the world, let them know what you have to offer. If you have made assumptions about others, try to understand them more. Where did they come from? How are they feeling? What has made them who they are? Talk to them, you may be surprised of what you will find.
I am a nice person
Susan Reich, Aim for Success Mentor
Shift work is an oil patch reality: night shift, day shift, week on - week off, on call, contracting, break up etc. Many times the question "What's your shift?" is just as popular as the question, "What do you do?"
Individually oilfield workers learn to navigate their shift and with it their lifestyle but, what about their families?
Canada day - A day of goodbyes, tears and smiles!
Anyone who knows our family was aware that for the past five weeks we have had my parents from England staying with us. This is a time that my children look forward to immensely. They love spending time with their grandparents regardless of the day or activity.
My parents have a special relationship with my oldest son Joshua. Being 10 years old, he is the only one who really can comprehend the fact that his grandparents live in England. Over the past few years, Joshua has held back from expressing his emotions when saying goodbye to them. He has chosen instead to internalize his feelings and sometimes I would ask him, “Are you going to miss them?” He would respond “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Chris Lees, Aim for Success Project Co-ordinator
Monday, May 13, 2013 11:32:19 MDT AM
I am the project co-ordinator of the Aim for Success project here in Drayton Valley. I moved here with my wife and four young children, who are all boys, two years ago and have been helping to co-ordinate the Aim for Success program since then.
Aim for Success is part of a larger project provincially called the Mental Health Capacity Building Project (MHCB). The MHCB project is one of the innovative initiatives being implemented throughout Alberta that improves the health and well-being of children, youth and their families while strengthening our communities.
This initiative is truly innovative because it brings together a number of people and professionals at the grassroots community level to help children learn how to self-protect their mental health and promote mental wellness from an early age. This critical help is provided within the school setting, where children spend a large amount of their time.
Currently there are 37 MHCB projects within Alberta, working in 44 different communities and more than 144 different schools. Locally we provide programs and initiatives to all the DV (WRPS) elementary and junior high schools.
We believe that all children can succeed and grow to become successful and meaningful citizens within our community. All of our programs and initiatives promote mental wellness and help children and youth work toward personal success.
In Africa there exists many tribes and one tribe that stands out for having the most feared warriors. That tribe is the Masai and their warriors are revered throughout all of Africa as the famous “Masai Warriors.” With this in mind, I find it fascinating to learn that the traditional greeting passed amongst the Masai Warriors when they greet is “Casserian Engeri.” In English it translates to “How are the children?” and to this day it still exists as a greeting passed amongst the Masai Warriors.
Chris Lees, Aim for Success Project Co-ordinator
Monday, May 27, 2013 11:45:28 MDT AM
Many of you who know me will be aware that, although myself and my family have spent the past seven years in Alberta I grew up elsewhere.
I was born and raised in England and this is often hard to hide. With my outlandish accent and my crazy sense of humour, often the first question I am asked is “Where are you from Australia or England?” Then once I have explained I am from the colder island, the one without the fantastic beaches the next question is often… “Hey I know someone in England, his name is John, John Smith, do you know him.” Once I have recovered from my internal laughter I have to explain that even though you could fit five England’s into Alberta, the population is a huge 54 million compared to Alberta’s population of 3.6 million.
In a country like England that has areas of such dense population, it is sometimes surprising to understand that being well connected to our friends and communities is challenging and often does not occur consistently. Often the myth is; if you are around lots of people you must be well connected!