Alberta Ministers visit GPRC to Discuss Student Mental Health

Alberta Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt shakes hands with GPRC student Brent Nordhagen. Brent is one of many students who have accessed and benefitted from GPRC’s mental health services, which are supported by the Government of Alberta.

GPRC was happy to welcome guests from the Government of Alberta earlier this week: the Honourable Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education, and the Honourable Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy and MLA for the Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley Region. The Ministers visited GPRC Grande Prairie campus on Monday to discuss mental health supports on campus and to hold an informal “meet-and-greet” for students.

In October 2017, the Alberta Government announced a multi-year investment into mental health supports for students at GPRC. Almost one year later, it is amazing to see how far this investment has taken us.

Since the Government’s original investment, GPRC has launched a Mental Health team consisting of a psychologist, two mental health counsellors (one on each campus who also serve our learning centres in the West Yellowhead region), and a grants administrator.

In the summer months alone, when most classes were not in session and few students were on campus, the mental health counsellors held over 100 appointments on both campuses to help students experiencing challenges to their mental health.

In the fall GPRC also launched a new intake system to make it easier for students to get access to the appropriate counsellor for their needs. Now, at the onset to the next academic year with the Mental Health team fully assembled, GPRC students will have access to high-quality resources for mental health concerns.

During their visit to GPRC, the Ministers stopped by the GPRC Friendship Centre, where they met with GPRC’s Elder in Residence as well as students who use the Friendship Centre and members of the Circle of Indigenous Students (CIS).

Brent Nordhagen, a GPRC student who accessed the College’s mental health services over the summer break, encourages other students to seek help if they are struggling.

“I’m grateful for the life-long coping skills I learned from Pamela [Dueck, GPRC mental health counsellor],” said Nordhagen. “I know that I am not the only student who is benefitting from these expanded services. To my fellow students, if you are facing a mental health challenge, please come see these people. They are here to help.”

The Government of Alberta has also invested an additional $10,000 to support Indigenous mental health programming.

Are you struggling with your mental health? Visit our website to access counselling and other services.

 

Minister Schmidt was available for a meet and greet in Howlers Lounge, where he mingled with and answered questions from GPRC students. Thank you for the great conversation, Minister Schmidt!

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