Quebec bringing 250 counsellors into schools to help distressed students

Quebec is spending $15 million to hire counsellors from the province's network of health professionals. They will be deployed to the province's schools this winter.

Increased strain on mental health among young people due to pandemic, study shows

A teacher wearing protective equipment greets her students in the school yard at the Philippe-Labarre Elementary School in Montreal on Thursday, August 27. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government will send 250 counsellors to elementary and high schools to help students struggling with their mental health due to the pandemic.

Quebec is spending $15 million to hire the counsellors from the province's network of health professionals. They will be deployed to schools to directly provide support to students.

Lionel Carmant, Quebec's junior health minister, said the pandemic has brought on a significant increase in stress and anxiety to young people.

"It's important to intervene now, before things risk getting worse," Carmant said.

Sophie Le Saux, 13, is one of them. She said over the last several months, her anxiety has only grown.

"I stress about school a lot. I also have a lot of anxiety about my friends," she said. "But not seeing my family is my biggest fear."

Ariane Leroux-Boudreault, a psychologist at École secondaire d'Anjou, says there's a large need among students.

"Stress is more present," she said. "To be cut off from friends causes distress among young people."

She said seeing everyone around them living in a heightened state of anxiety can also be distressing for children.

A study by Quebec's public health institute, INSPQ, suggests a third of adolescents are more stressed than normal since the start of the pandemic.

The 250 counsellors will support the school administration and teaching staff. They will go into classes, meet with students and help guide them to the mental health resources they need, Quebec's Health Ministry said.

The ministry says it wants to have these counsellors in schools starting this winter.

There are about 2,500 public schools in the province. 

Based on a report by Radio-Canada

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