One-on-one counselling coming to 8 N.W.T. schools this fall

Seven mental health counsellors and one clinical supervisor will be coming to schools in the Tlicho and Dehcho regions this September.

8 new positions created in Tlicho and Dehcho regions

Terry Jaffray, superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council, says the counsellors will be able to provide assistance for a wide range of issues (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Mental health counsellors will be coming to schools in the Tlicho and Dehcho regions this September. 

The seven counsellors and one clinical supervisor will be offering one-on-one sessions to students.

The new positions are part of a four-year rollout of child and youth mental health counsellors throughout schools in the territory. 

The territorial government put aside $1.5 million toward the scheme in the 2018-19 budget. 

Shannon Barnett-Aikman, chief executive officer for the Tlicho community services agency, said there are significant mental health demands in the N.W.T.'s youth population. 

"It's most definitely a service and a support that's needed and I think it will definitely help, but I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to say that it will meet all needs by any stretch," she said.

"Presently, we don't have that, so next year, in those three communities, we'll have that, and that's most definitely a positive step."

Thomas Simpson Secondary in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., pictured in February, will have a clinical supervisor and share a counsellor with Bompas Elementary School. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

The counsellors will be spread out throughout the regions with some serving more than one school:

  • Behchoko: Chief Jimmy Bruneau School will have two counsellors, while Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School will have one. 
  • Whati: Mezi Community School will have one full-time counsellor.
  • Fort Liard: Echo-Dene School will be getting a full-time counsellor.
  • Fort Providence and Kakisa: Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School and Kakisa Territorial School will share a counsellor.
  • Fort Simpson: Bompas Elementary School and Thomas Simpson Secondary School will also share a counsellor. 
  • The clinical supervisor will oversee the counselling services and provide extra counselling in Fort Simpson, where that person's office will be located.

Terry Jaffray, superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council, said the counsellors will be able to provide assistance for a wide range of issues.

"I'm not going to say that having a counsellor totally eliminates these worries and concerns for kids, but it could help alleviate them so that they can take advantage of the school programs," she said. 

"When you have a lot on your mind, whether it's worries about your family, maybe someone's sick or you weren't able to eat breakfast this morning because you're a little short on cash," she said. "Our little kids sometimes, they have issues, and I think that the counsellors by providing a counselling service for the kids, it will help support them."


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