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Board Discusses Mental Health and Addiction with MLA Dan Williams

The Peace River Board of Trustees met with Peace River MLA, and Alberta Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, Dan Williams at Central Operations in Grimshaw on Tuesday, July 2. The one-hour meeting was an opportunity for the board to advocate on matters related to mental health on behalf of the entire school division.

The position of the PRSD Board of Trustees was emphasized by Trustee Lori Leitch who spoke to  Williams about the need for sustainable and predictable mental health funding for the entire division. As a Director with the Rural Caucus of Alberta, Trustee Leitch was able to communicate to Williams that the PRSD is not the only rural school board in Alberta asking for this type of funding. At the time of the meeting, she had six other school boards who were ready to lend their voices to this particular advocacy campaign.

In response, Williams stated that while the funding for mental health programs in schools lies with the Minister of Education, he is keenly aware that all education professionals want to educate kids but in order to do that, they must adjust to other factors that interface with education, like sports, family and mental health. Moving into the Fall, Williams said he hopes to evaluate the current programs and gaps in mental health support and produce good guidelines and templates for the provision of a mental wellness framework, that would lead to alleviating the pressure points in the current system.

During their conversation, the board also discussed the need for psychiatric care for students in this area and the challenges schools face around students who are vaping. Williams emphasized that he hoped to see a real shift in how Alberta views addiction, moving away from treating based on substance or process, and instead clear the distractions and look at the root of the addiction. Williams encouraged the PRSD Board of Trustees to speak with Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally about their concerns regarding vaping and how it is marketed.

The PRSD is grateful to have had this meeting with MLA Dan Williams, and for the support the Division has received to date from the team of Ministers with the Alberta Government. With their support, the Board of Trustees hopes to continue to see many positive changes for families and students of northwestern Alberta.

Jul 2, 2024 Board of Trustees Mental Health Supports

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