Portage College is getting a funding boost from the province to improve access to mental health services for students.
The college will receive 195,000 dollars in funding each year for three years to implement new programs and services, which is part of a 25.8-million dollar project the province is spending on mental health services in Alberta colleges.
“We know the scope of the challenges to addressing mental wellness in Alberta’s K-12 and post-secondary education systems demand a coordinated response, especially in rural, remote and Indigenous communities,” says Portage College President Dr. Trent Keough. “We also need a systemic shift in how Alberta’s health-care system accommodates, receives, treats and provides after-care supports to those students, and all others living with mental illness.”
The 2016 National College Health Assessment survey conducted at 10 schools across the province showed a high incidence of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
“With a fifth of Canadian college students struggling with a variety of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, it is essential that effective mental health strategies be identified and funded in the post-secondary setting,” adds General Manager for the Portage College Students Association’ Amie Elponoria. “This grant could allow Portage College to provide front-line counsellors and other services, giving more students in our seven-campus system access to help when they need it.”
Former student Dave Ashworth adds; “I live with depression on a daily basis. During my studies at Portage College, the positive support received from school counsellors, staff and instructors for my mental health struggles helped me achieve my goals and succeed as a student. The Alberta government’s financial commitment will help provide more resources as the decreasing stigma and increasing awareness of mental health issues creates further demand.”