Black Gold School Division

Our Schools – Your Children – The Future

September 18, 2018

BGRD meets with community partners in mental health initiative

On Tuesday, September 18th, Black Gold Regional Division No. 18 (BGRD) school staff and representatives from all seven municipalities within BGRD’s borders sat down to discuss strategies for supporting students’ mental health needs.

The group included principals, counsellors, senior BGRD administration, local chapters of Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), and the Leduc & District Food Bank. Together, they outlined a wide range of challenges in providing mental health supports in our schools and communities, and explored opportunities to address those challenges.

The conversations and ideas presented will help inform BGRD’s Student Services department with its Mental Health Capacity Building planning.

“We hope to get a good feel through intentional conversation of how each of our municipalities sees our objectives being met according to their context,” says BGRD’s Mental Health Capacity Building Coordinator, Stephanie Vantanajal.

In her role, Vantanajal leads a team of nine Family School Liaison Workers (FSLWs) whose responsibilities include educating students, staff, and families on strategies for maintaining good mental health. The role has evolved over the years as the public’s understanding of mental health issues and, therefore, demand for support increases. For example, this school year, BGRD’s Family School Liaison Workers have expanded the age groups they work with on mental health capacity building – they are now providing support to pre-k and kindergarten students, families, and teachers to meet demands.

Vantanajal says the evolving need surrounding mental health makes conversations with community partners like the one held September 18th critical. “In order to understand and address the complexities surrounding mental health in our students, we need to understand the issues on a broader scale. That allows us to explore areas where we may need to expand supports or provide different supports.”