Education minister announces $40M for student mental health

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Ontario’s education minister has announced plans to more than double the amount of money spent on mental health services for the province’s high school students.

On World Mental Health Day, Stephen Lecce told reporters his government would invest $40 million, which is more than twice as much spent during the 2017-2018 school year.

He also said his government would hire 180 frontline mental health workers who will work in high schools; social workers, psychologists, and psychotherapists.

“Too many students are struggling with their mental health and well-being,” Lecce said Thursday. “I am proud to be a member of this government that is applying a compassionate eye to making mental health a priority.”

The announcement also included promises to cut wait times and improve access to mental health services.

A total of $1 million will go to Kids Help Phone, while another $1 million will be invested in Roots of Empathy, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada will get $1.5 million.

All school boards will share a $3 million increase for well-being and mental health programs.

“We will continue working hard to ensure that we provide effective mental health programs and services for Ontario students,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo. “Too many families have waited too long for the mental health services they require for themselves and for their children.”

A release from the Ontario government said 70 per cent of mental health and addictions begin in childhood or adolescence, while one in five students in Grades 7 to 12 say their mental health as fair to poor.