The provincial government announced on Thursday at Peacock Collegiate that it is one of five schools being added to Saskatchewan's Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools program. 

The five schools were chosen through an application-based process. Also being added to the program are Lloydminster Composite School in Lloydminster, Carpenter High School in Meadow Lake, St. Alphonsus School in Yorkton and Balfour Collegiate in Regina.  

This now brings the total number of schools participating in the program to 15. An additional $1 million in the Minister of Health’s 2024-2025 budget will go towards the expansion for a total investment of $3 million for the program. 

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Moose Jaw North MLA Tim McLeod explained more about what the program entails. 

“This program and the funding behind the program offer additional staff to allow students an access point to connect them to mental health services that they may require,” McLeod said.  

“It not only provides them with the services in the school but, again, connecting them to services in the community as well.” 

Peacock Collegiate principal Tana Arnott said adding the program to her school will be a big benefit. 

“It will help to enhance the support that we offer in the building as well as strengthen the partnerships that we have in our community with various agencies,” she said. 

The provincial government says the Mental Health Capacity Building program is expected to expand into all 27 school divisions within the next five years. 

Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill said the program is already in schools in his riding in the Battlefords. 

“This program is in two of our high schools at John Paul II Collegiate and North Battleford Comprehensive,” Cockrill said.  

“I've had the opportunity to go through both those schools and meet with the Mental Health Capacity Building staff and really the impact it’s having on students in my community is fantastic and so I'm excited to see it expanded to five more communities around the province.” 

The Mental Health Capacity Building program is led by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The school divisions receive funding from the SHA to hire Mental Health Capacity Building staff. That staff is then responsible for delivering the promotion and prevention programming. 

Official Opposition Education Critic Matt Love released a written statement about the announcement, saying that the program is expanding at a snail’s pace. 

“It’s sad that the government has not made any new investments in Saskatoon and most of rural Saskatchewan. This program was introduced five years ago and it still only covers 15 out of approximately 700 schools in Saskatchewan. This 17-year-old government is running out of steam and just doesn’t understand the challenges facing our kids,” the statement read.