Mental health could be part of classroom studies for some students this fall.
The province plans to introduce mandatory learning for grade 7 and 8 students while making it part of the Grade 10 career studies program a year later.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says programming for grades 7 and 8 will be part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum.
"We're going to continue to work with the mental health partners, as well as our leaders in the Ministry of Health, to ensure that our communities have the supports they need," says Lecce," a more holistic aligned sector where we're able to provide services in communities as well as support kids in our schools. It's about connecting students to the knowledge and the mental health they need. And it means helping them discover a healthy, balanced lifestyle."
The grade 10 program will be included in the Career Studies course beginning in the fall of 2024.
Lecce also announced funding to make mental health services available to students during the summer months.
He says this ensures students have consistent year-round service.
We're going to increase funding, $12 million for this year, $14 million for next year, $16 million the year after, to ensure summer mental health supports continue, that we no longer have kids having to go back in the community, not having access to the same mental health practitioner in July and August."
A total of $114 million is being earmarked toward mental health funding in schools during the next school year.
Lecce says this represents a 500 per cent increase since 2018.
Other components to being funded include:
- $50.4 million to help school boards meet local needs and priorities related to mental health, including professional development, student engagement, wellness promotion and mental health professionals
- $26.5 million to hire permanent mental health workers in secondary schools
- $10.8 million for mental health leaders in school boards who collaborate with community partners to provide integrated student mental health services
- $6.5 million to School Mental Health Ontario to provide clinical expertise, resources and practical tools for educators, and the delivery of professional learning to school-based mental health clinicians
- $3.75 million towards mental health support for racialized and marginalized students
- $2 million to increase awareness for parents and guardians on student mental health
- $2 million to support emerging student mental health needs, including initiatives that promote healthy behaviours such as the prevention and awareness of substance use and addiction.