HALIFAX — The province has announced funding to increase the number of guidance counsellors, mental health clinicians and youth health centres in Nova Scotia schools.
Premier Darrell Dexter met with representatives from the Nova Scotia School Counsellors Association on Wednesday.
“Young people face many difficult issues, from mental health concerns to sexual violence and bullying behaviour. We’re making it a priority to ensure more resources are in place to support students and families,” Dexter said in a news release. “This investment will ensure that students from every region of the province will have more access to people they can turn to when they need help, or if they need someone to talk to.”
The funding increase will take effect starting next year. An additional $4.6 million will be provided to school boards over three years to enable them to increase the number of guidance counsellors, beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Another $9.4 million will be allocated to hire mental health clinicians and youth health centre co-ordinators.
“Any increase in guidance counsellor positions will give students better access to experienced professionals who can support their social and emotional needs,” said Teri Cochrane, president of the Nova Scotia School Counsellors Association.
Increasing the number of guidance counsellors is a key recommendation of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying. Its report recommends that the province provide targeted funding to reach a ratio of one guidance counsellor for every 500 students from grades Primary to 12.
“We know that students often go to guidance counsellors first when they need help, or when they are faced with bullying and cyberbullying,” said education Minister Ramona Jennex. “We’ve heard from principals, teachers, parents and students that they want better access to resources, and I’m looking forward to working with school boards to provide that support.”
Delays in implementing all recommendations from the task force are putting kids at risk,Progressive Conservative education critic Eddie Orrell said in a news release.
“The NDP have wasted an entire school year, putting kids at unnecessary risk, picking and choosing which recommendations are implemented and which are not,” said Orrell, who is MLA for Cape Breton North.