Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School in Edzo. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
The territorial government says changes to child and youth counselling services will improve mental health supports for students and families.
Since the program was launched in 2018, clinical counsellors hired by health and social service authorities in the NWT have delivered mental health services in schools.
In response to feedback from education bodies and teachers, the NWT government said 55 percent of program funding will now go to those bodies to directly provide mental health supports in schools. Education bodies will be responsible for hiring their own mental health providers and will determine how services are delivered in their regions.
Health authorities will retain the remaining 45 percent of funding to provide clinical counselling through the health and social services system.
“This remodel allows us to continue a team approach to mental health care for students and youth, between the school based-providers and the health system-based counsellors and practitioners,” health and social services minister Julie Green was quoted as saying in a news release.
Education minister RJ Simpson was quoted as saying the program remodel will provide an opportunity for school services to be localized and integrate Indigenous knowledge and practices.
The child and youth counselling services program began in the 2018-2019 school year in two regions. It was expanded to all communities in 2021-2022, with counsellors hired in 37 schools with more than 75 students and a travelling team providing mental health supports in 12 smaller schools.
The NWT government began an evaluation of the program earlier this year after regional wellness councils and education boards expressed concern. It said an independent contractor is currently finalizing its evaluation report.