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This... from ATA President Greg Jeffery

January 15, 2019

Support the pledge to improve mental health


Happy New Year once again colleagues. As we return to our classrooms after the break, it should not be a surprise to any of us that all is not happy. We know that the holidays can make mental health issues more obvious and more intense. Also, January and February are the two worst months in terms of mental health statistics.

We know it is important to care for each other and our students, but do we have the supports in place to accomplish this? Our data says, generally speaking, that we do not. There is no equity across the province in this regard. In our Pledge for Public Education, statement number four hopes to help address this inequality. It says “I believe all students should have access to a teacher-certificated school counsellor in their school.”

There is a huge disparity in the level and timeliness of service that is available to students throughout the province. It ranges from school divisions where an administrative allowance is paid to chartered psychologists who are in-school counsellors, to divisions where, when a student requires testing, that service is contracted from central office and paid out of the school budget.

While we as classroom teachers do as much as we can, providing the next level of support is crucial to the well-being of both our students and ourselves. We know that improvements to classroom conditions mean an improvement to student learning, and this is why the fourth statement is part of our pledge.

So what can we do? Firstly, sign onto the pledge at Then talk to others about signing on as well — family, friends, trustees and influential members of the community. Use the URL to post social media messages about the pledge.

Let’s work to improve this situation so next January is happier for more of our students because one of the supports they need is in place regardless of where they live in our province. ❚

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