FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT - Marlin Schmidt, minister of advanced education, announced funding for Red Deer College to help develop new tools and resources to assist students with mental health needs. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

Improving student mental health at Red Deer College

Province announces funding for initiatives

Significant provincial funding was announced on Tuesday for developing new tools and resources to assist Red Deer College students dealing with any kind of mental health.

The Government of Alberta is providing $205,000 a year to Red Deer College for the next three years. This new equitable funding is part of a $25.8 million investment to protect and improve mental health resources for post-secondary students at all publicly-funded institutions across Alberta between 2017 and 2020.

“The sometimes overwhelming pressure that comes with post-secondary education can have a significant impact on a student’s mental health. Providing equitable funding to all our public post-secondary institutions will ensure our next generations of leaders and visionaries have the supports and resources they need to succeed,” said Marlin Schmidt, minister of advanced education.

He said they want to make sure that all students can reach their full potential and have access to mental health supports if and when they need them.

Some resources include increased counselling hours, increased levels of peer support and access to services.

“We’ll be setting up a provincial-wide hotline for students as well so that regardless of where they are or what time of day it is there should be somebody there to help them when they need it,” said Schmidt.

In June, the province announced new funding that increases and improves mental health supports for post-secondary students across Alberta. As well, over the past four years, Red Deer College has received $134,000 from the Alberta Students’ Executive Council to support mental health initiatives.

“Student life is often stressful and at times can feel overwhelming. Easy access to mental health information, supports and training programs promotes a positive college community and is the key to reducing stigma, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and getting a quality education. This funding will create new opportunities to provide our students at Red Deer College with a healthy and successful post-secondary experience,” said William Baliko, president of Students’ Association of Red Deer College.

The 2016 National College Health Assessment survey conducted at 10 post-secondary institutions across the province showed a high incidence of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. With good mental health supports in place, mental well-being is linked to academic achievement, learning, retention and future achievement.

“We know these supports make a difference in the lives of post secondary students and we’re committed to ensuring we do everything we can to make life better here in Alberta,” said Schmidt.

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