New Glasgow schools to receive mental health clinician, other services

Published on May 23, 2014
MLA Lloyd Hines announced the expansion of the SchoolsPlus program into New Glasgow at a North Nova Education Centre event on Friday. SchoolsPlus brings services such as mental health and justice into schools to offer easier access for students and their families. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS 

NEW GLASGOW – New Glasgow Academy, North Nova Education Centre and A.G. Baillie Memorial School will soon offer more services to students, including in-school mental health access.

Representatives from the provincial government and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board announced the expansion of the SchoolsPlus program at North Nova Education Centre on Friday.

“SchoolsPlus is an innovative model that helps students, families and communities get a full range of support services in the heart of their own communities, in their own schools,” MLA Lloyd Hines said on behalf of Karen Casey, minister of education and early childhood development, listing health, mentoring, social work, homework support and justice as a few of the services it offers.

The SchoolsPlus program operates out of a hub school, in this case New Glasgow Academy, and moves around to help address needs of students in the surrounding area.

Tracey Shay is a facilitator for the program in Truro, which has been in place for close to a year.

“It’s pretty much driven by the students and the families, so when I take on a referral, I usually sit down with the youth and they will pretty much tell me what they feel they need. We try to keep it student-focused, and we try to keep it as, ‘what do they want from us?’ It’s not about me telling them what I think they need because that doesn’t always work very well,” Shay said. “We’ve done everything from linking kids to income assistance, to linking them to mental health, addictions services, sometimes it’s linking them to Canadian Mental Health Association to even things as simple as getting them into the SPCA to do some volunteering,” she said, noting that their outreach worker often assists with things like resume building and programming to keep students engaged.

She believes the program is valuable, and has helped some students graduate that otherwise may not have.

Peggy Gill, a mental health clinician with the program in Truro, notes that transportation can be an issue and having mental health access in schools eliminates that.

It also allows them to miss less class time, she said.

The program in New Glasgow is expected to serve 2,000 students and their families, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Although the model is specifically working with schools in New Glasgow, Scott Milner, director of education services for CCRSB, said that surrounding schools feel the benefits as well from the strengthening of services.

The Department of Health and Wellness is funding the addition of 10 and a half mental health clinician positions in SchoolsPlus sites across the province.

“Mental health clinicians are an important part of the collaborative SchoolsPlus program. They provide care and support to students who are experiencing a mental health issue or mental illness and help parents connect with the resources they need to help their son or daughter. With these additional mental health clinicians, now more students will have access to this critical service,” Hines said.

Similar announcements were made in Aylesford, Glace Bay and Inverness Friday.

Hines also noted that the model will be rolled out in other schools in 2016-2017.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda