COMMUNITY-BASED MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY
Graduating from high school helps ensure future success in terms of career choices, income, family health and stability, and participation in community life. Yet, all children of all ages and income levels face barriers to doing so when confronted with financial or social challenges or the overwhelming pressure to succeed.
The Family Centre currently provides mental health therapists in 36 schools and resource centres to improve the educational experience for students and staff. We believe children should not be judged solely on their misconduct or grades; we should aim to understand and support the underlying reasons for their behaviour. Those who access our therapists sometimes face multiple stressors, such as poverty, abuse, or addiction, and would not typically access therapy services otherwise. Other times, they may have experienced a trauma or are struggling to meet expectations.
In addition to supporting students, mental health therapists work with their family, community, and teachers to help them better understand children who have gone through trauma. This includes educating the community about the impact of trauma on the developing brain. We believe reaching children and youth while they are in school is the best way to encourage future success.
How does it work?
Once a child is referred to us, mental health therapists provide a combination of counselling and group work, customized for the child and their family.
In schools and the community, therapists are part of an integrated service delivery team. They work collaboratively with other service providers in a ‘circle of support’ model for children and their families. Their goal is to make community networks for families stronger, and facilitate support for those who need it most.
Who can participate?
Our mental health therapists see children and adolescents who have been referred through a teacher or the principal at their school. Often, parents will be asked to participate in the process as we aim to support the whole family.
What issues do the therapists address?
To help young people and families overcome the barriers and challenges that inhibit learning and development, and stop kids from completing high school, we focus on:
- Children engaged in high-risk behaviours (e.g., drug and alcohol abuse)
- Bullying and conflict resolution in school and peer environments
- Chaotic, unhealthy home environments
- Dysfunctional and dangerous relationships (e.g., participation in gangs)
- The debilitating stress of living in extreme poverty
- The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome
- Children experiencing the effects of abuse and trauma
- Parental dysfunction and child neglect
When and where is it offered?
Therapy services in the community are available only through our partnering schools. This is a current list of the schools where this support is available.
If your child’s school is listed, please contact the school principal to discuss a referral.
How can we get a mental health therapist in our school?
Please have your school’s principal contact:
William Smiley, Therapy and Counselling Manager
How much does it cost?
There is no cost to participating families.
Mental health therapists are funded by The City of Edmonton – Family and Community Support Services, United Way of the Capital Region, or directly by participating schools.
“The Family Centre’s team had a tremendous, positive impact on our school. Their expertise and professionalism gained them the respect of staff and students alike. They provided much-needed supports for many children this year, who may not have had access to counselling otherwise. They were able to set up Girls Group and Boys Group in addition to individual counselling sessions. They have become valued members of our community.”
St. Francis of Assisi School
In January of 2017 Sherwood School was blessed with the addition of a Mental Health Therapist through The Family Centre. We have many students and families with extensive trauma, grief, loss and other issues in their lives, and the support of the Mental Health Therapist has been a Godsend. Each and every day there are high-level issues that require more than a "talk and a referral" and with tour Mental Health Therapist we are able to extend services to have students and families receive therapy on site. The availability of these services for our families has made such a huge difference as I know we can give much more timely and professional service right here in our school.
We also have been able to secure the services of a Success Coach for the 2017-2018 school year and are thus double blessed with increased services and support for all our families. Services of a Mental Health Therapist pre-service student has also rounded out the team of amazing professionals who are in our school each and every day. It is such a gift to be able to have someone on site to walk with me on this journey with the children, staff, and families.
Together they have been an amazing addition to our team and work to support the mental health and welfare of all students and families. Support with self-regulation, trauma, loss, grief, depression, separation and divorce of parents, among other issues, serve to create a "circle of support" for our children and families. Students, staff, and parents find all of The Family Centre staff to be part of our team and have mentioned to me that they are approachable, kind, eager to serve, and knowledgeable and professional in all their interactions.
I have told my staff and my Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Schools that these services have "saved my life" and I mean that so sincerely. In a single-administrator school, I would not be able to handle all the demands without the support of The Family Centre. Even with a counselling background and many years of work with families in crisis, I need to have more supports in order to create more stability and calm in children’s lives.
The level of skill and dedication of The Family Centre professionals is clearly evident and I am eternally grateful for all their support.
Dr. Maureen Yates
Principal, Sherwood School