In-school mental health program breaking down barriers

January 26, 2012

Sherwood Park… School-based addiction and mental health programs operating in communities throughout Alberta are making a positive impact.

“Alberta’s Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative leads the way in providing innovative mental health strategies for children, youth and families because it integrates mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services in a school-based setting,” said Premier Alison Redford. “The success of the initiative is due in great part to the community support the projects receive.”Because of this collaboration, the Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools initiative is resulting in improved overall health, increased student success and a more resilient population.

“These projects help children and youth cope with their problems and challenges and teach them where to go if they need support,” said Fred Horne, Health and Wellness Minister. “The in-school location of the programs is a key strength of the model in promoting awareness and access. This awareness should encourage discussion about mental health among young people, which in turn will reduce stigma about this issue.”

Alberta’s Provincial Mental Health Plan identified several areas of high priority in the mental health system, including a focus on children and youth. As a result, the Mental Health Capacity Building initiative was created and started with five pilot sites in Alberta. Over the past five years, the initiative has grown to 38 projects in 119 schools in 47 Alberta communities, including the KEYS to Empowering Youth to Succeed program at F.R. Haythorne Junior High School in Sherwood Park.

A recent evaluation of the program, including feedback from 21,899 children, youth, parents, educators, service providers and community members, shows overwhelming support in project communities. Mental health and wellness services are now more accessible to children, youth and families while stigma around mental illness is decreasing. For information and the evaluation report, visit

The initiative supports the five strategic directions set out in Creating Connections: Alberta’s Addiction and Mental Health Strategy and the Children’s Mental Health Plan. The cornerstone elements of the initiative dovetail with the goals identified by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services to improve access to addiction and mental health treatment, and to increase the emphasis on prevention and health promotion in the community.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Andy Weiler
Alberta Health and Wellness
[email protected]

Tim Chamberlin
Alberta Education
[email protected]

Kerry Williamson
Senior Media Relations Advisor
Alberta Health Services – Edmonton
780-407-2602 office 780-905-5890 cell
[email protected]

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.

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