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Saskatchewan brings mental health pilot to North Battleford schools

A pilot project is in two North Battleford schools to help build the mental health of students. Mental Health Capacity Building (MHCB) is in five Saskatchewan schools, including John Paull II Collegiate and North Battleford Comprehensive High School, to help build up resilient mental health in young people.

The MHCB pilot project is an initiative helping students and those who interact with them better understand the many facets of mental health. In a statement, the Saskatchewan Government says it addresses recommendations outlined in the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan.

School divisions have received funding from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to hire MHCB staff, including a School Co-ordinator and Wellness Promoter, to work in the pilot schools. Erin Woytiuk is the co-ordinator of the MHCB pilot for both schools in North Battleford. She’s happy to be able to bring this kind of programming to not just one, but two schools in the Battlefords area.

“We’re privileged to be able to deliver this initiative in the Battlefords. We were selected for two sites out of the five, so I think having that opportunity to run this initiative in both schools is really unique in this province,” says Woytiuk.

A focus of the pilot includes networking with existing community resources for the youth to access when needed. Woytiuk says that some of the outcomes they want to see in the youth are the ability to refer them to community resources.

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The pilot is also part of the school curriculum; Woytiuk meets with teachers to discuss the outcomes they want to achieve with their students. Currently, the pilot begins with grade 7 for NBCHS and grade 9 at the collegiate. Woytiuk says that the pilot has been very well received by the community.

“The reception has been really warm because it’s needed in our community. Mental health is a priority in the Battlefords, as I’m sure it is in other communities.”

While it’s still too early in the pilot to determine its impacts, Woytiuk says the students are very receptive to what they’ve been learning. She says she would like to include the students in choosing what their MHCB programming will feature.

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