• Lorna Hamilton

Star-studded Lineup For Alberta’s Mental Wellness Day For Schools


Brett Kissel. Photo supplied

The Alberta government recognizes the challenges that COVID-19 and the restrictions surrounding the pandemic has caused on students, parents, teachers and education staff throughout Alberta. In recognition of the resilience these groups of people have shown throughout these trying times (which have affected their mental health), the Alberta government will be hosting a virtual Mental Wellness Day for schools across Alberta on June 3; and invite all to take part in the free online sessions surrounding mental health and wellness.

To accommodate the hectic end-of-year school schedules, most of the sessions will be available to view online once they are completed and detailed information about the event, including how to attend can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/mental-wellness-day-for-schools.aspx. The site states that there will be individual sessions for kindergarten to Grade 3, Grades 4 to 6 and Grades 7 to 12 students- as well as teachers, staff and parents, with the shared theme: ‘Take care of yourself and each other.’

According to the website the day is full of sessions which can be viewed. From 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. is the welcoming of students, parents, staff and educational leaders, 10 to 10:45 a.m. kindergarten to Grade 6 students and staff are welcome to join Alberta Health Services who are offering two age-appropriate mental health literacy sessions on understanding stress response and how it relates to mental wellness. From 11 to 11:45 a.m. the same age group can join Ever Active Schools who will provide two appropriate sessions focused on enhancing social-emotional learning through activity.

School and authority leaders (Mental Health Continuum of Supports and Services) will have the opportunity to discuss designing a mental health continuum of supports and services with The College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) and Alberta Education program staff from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Grades 7 to 12 are invited to experience live music, Q&A and Jack Talks provided by young adults who have with lived with mental health experiences. The topics include how to take care of oneself, how to be there for others and the sharing of available resources including the Alberta Youth Mental Health Hub from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.

All staff can participate in a session from 3:45 to 5 p.m. titled ‘Maintaining our Capacity to Cope during Times of Change and Challenge’ with renowned author and speaker on resilience, Dr. Michael Unger. The session will end with an important message from Sheldon Kennedy, a former professional hockey player and co-founder of Respect Group Inc.

All parents can join speaker, author, and game changer Dr. Jody Carrington as she delivers her powerful message through humour and realism, according to the site from 7 to 8 p.m.

Country music singer Brett Kissel is slotted to participate and said, “Focusing on our mental and emotional health is so, so key. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to be mindful of how we actually feel mentally – but it’s important to take time each and every day to check in. Find something that works for you – go for a walk, take a social media break, list out things you’re grateful for or review your short - and long-term goals; we do this in my family daily and it truly leads to clarity, a healthier mind, and ultimately greater happiness. I’m excited to spend some time with you talking more about this on June 3 for Alberta Education’s Mental Wellness Day.”

As stated in a press release on the event Alberta Education has a budget of $25,000 for this event and Alberta’s government has provided more than $53 million during this school year to make it easier for students, families and all Albertans to access mental health information, support and referral. It also says that funding has supported the Kids Help Phone, Mental Health Helpline and Addiction Helpline. In addition, Alberta’s government has partnered with Jack.org to create a resource hub for youth mental health at https://jack.org/Resources/ABHub, which includes numerous free online tools designed for youth.

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