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Addressing mental health a priority for local school district

Revelstoke Times Review - 2/3/2018

About 15 per cent of Canadian youth are impacted by a mental illness or disorder, and only one in five Canadian students who require mental health services receive them, says the Canadian Mental Health Association.

On Nov. 10 of last year psychologist Vanessa Lapointe presented statistics like those at a parent information session hosted by School District 19.

In an attempt to address these concerns, SD19 has implemented a number of mental health initiatives for students.

The most recent service the school board will be providing for students at Revelstoke Secondary School is access to a walk-in clinic every Wednesday from 11:30 to 2:30, which is slated to begin this March.

Superintendent Mike Hooker said students might not have considered previously talking to a doctor or mental health professional.

"For sure there were students looking for it, and the health nurse and the youth coordinator started that conversation, but I don't think a lot of students considered that it would be possible to talk to a professional."

The drop-in clinic will run until the end of the school year in June, and is intended to provide students with access to a medical professional who they can ask a question about anything. The idea, hooker said, is to remove the stigma that some students may have attached to seeking advice from a medical professional.

"The doctors have told us that they don't really see a lot of teens in their office. It's intimidating for youth to walk in by their own volition. But we have a really nice and friendly space. If a student wants to go and see a doctor, there's no stigma attached to it."

Local physicians Dr. Veale and Dr. Cruise Hardy, and Interior Health Authority public health nurse Kelsey Croxall will take turns offering the weekly clinic in a drop-in format. The doctors, Hooker said, will more or less be volunteering their time at RSS.

Other services currently offered at RSS are a sexual health clinic offered on Mondays, access to counselling and youth services on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and access to a clinical psychologist who holds booked appointments on Thursday.

Hooker also said that the decision to implement these services was the result of a coordinated approach to mental health.

"We have gathered community resources and focused them," said Hooker. "Anything related to mental health has been extremely coordinated."

 
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