$26M set for mental health
Provincial funds to address crisis at universities
New mental-health funding could help Alberta universities cut counselling wait times for students at risk of suicide, advocates say.
Announcing the provincial government’s $25.8-million investment Monday, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt cited last year’s National College Health Assessment survey of Alberta campuses that found 13 per cent had seriously contemplated suicide in the past year and one in 50 attempted suicide.
“We cannot and will not let this heartbreaking state of affairs to continue,” Schmidt said.
The funds will roll out over three years, with $2.6 million going to Edmonton institutions annually.
MacEwan University’s Student Association president Stephanie Nedoshytko said MacEwan’s $120,000 annual share will allow them to increase the number of mental-health support workers on campus.
“Our wait times, just recently, have been around three weeks for students to access psychologists, counsellors or social workers on campus,” she said.
Marina Banister, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, said that while students are excited for the funding, they have concerns over the formula, which doesn’t dole out funds based on population.
The U of A will get the biggest slice of the funding, with $1 million over three years — but it’s one of the lowest per student based on full-load equivalent enrolment numbers.