Politics
Alberta funds student mental-health services

Alberta Minister of Health Fred Horne announces grant funding for Alberta's numerous post-secondary institutions to enhancement psychological services at the University of Alberta on Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013.

Credits: Tom Braid/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency

CATHERINE GRIWKOWSKY | QMI AGENCY

EDMONTON - Alberta is injecting cash into colleges and universities to ease the growing pressure on mental-health services.

While the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge will each get $3 million over three years, the Alberta Students' Executive Council (ASEC) will get $1.5 million for all other post-secondary students in the province.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said one in five Canadians will develop a mental illness.

"It seems especially sad if that person is a young adult preparing for life and a career," Horne said.

The funding will pay for psychologists, physiologists, clinical social workers, physicians, psychiatric nurses, counsellors and mental-health practitioners.

Dr. Frank Robinson, dean of students at the U of A, said the funding will keep students mentally healthy and will help with academic success. He said the funding will meet current demand.

"Hopefully, you noticed the therapy dogs downstairs today when you came in that help out our students with well-placed, free face licks," Robinson said at a press conference.

"Despite all the progress and success that we've had in student mental-health incidents of depression, feelings of isolation and hopelessness, suicide and self-harm are major challenges at post-secondary institutions across North America."

The ASEC will use the funds to fill in delivery gaps and do research.

"There is urgent and unmet demand for theses crucial services as the campus community is often the first place a struggling student will turn," said ASEC chair Matthew Armstrong.

The ASEC, which represents 175,000 students, is receiving $1.5 million.

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