Toronto - On World Mental Health Day, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced an investment of nearly $40 million, more than double the funding from 2017-18, to advance student mental health in partnership with education groups. The government also announced that it will permanently fund approximately 180 frontline mental health workers in secondary schools (social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists) to reduce wait times and improve access to critical services.
"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."
In Ontario, 70 per cent of mental health and addictions issues begin in childhood or adolescence. One in five students in grades 7-12 rate their mental health as fair or poor.
"We will continue working hard to ensure that we provide effective mental health programs and services for Ontario's students," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Too many families have waited too long for the mental health services they require for themselves, and for their children. By investing in frontline programs and services, we will continue moving forward to create a mental health system in Ontario that fully supports our students."
As part of the government's ongoing commitment to supporting mental health and addiction programming, the Ministry of Education in investing in nine front-line programs with education partners:
- $25 million of permanent funding for approximately 180 (FTEs) mental health workers in secondary schools (social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists);
- $6.5 million to Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board/School Mental Health Ontario to support district school boards;
- $3 million to well-being and mental health programs through all district school boards;
- $1.5 million to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada;
- $1 million to Kids Help Phone;
- $1 million to Roots of Empathy;
- $250,000 to WE Charity to support the WE Schools program;
- $245,000 to the Principal Association Projects Service Partners and the Ontario Principal's Council for cyberbullying prevention skills development for school leaders; and
- $120,000 to White Ribbon for an educator resource focusing on the prevention of sexual exploitation.
"Mental health is a key component of an individual's overall health, so I applaud the government for making these valuable investments," said Katherine Hay, president and CEO of Kids Help Phone. "Today's announcements will make a big difference in the lives of students and their families."
- In the 2019-20 school year, the government has updated the Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 to provide students in Ontario with a more comprehensive approach to learning about mental health, including the addition of Social Emotional Learning Skills to support the mental health and well-being of all students.
- In the 2019-20 school year, the Ministry of Education will provide $3.2 million to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and NAN organizations for activities that support student transitions, safety and well-being including mental health.