A grade 11 student, Shirley Joubert, understands firsthand what it’s like to need help and not be able to reach it.
She has experienced anxiety and depression. The school she goes to, Moncton High School, has a vacant psychologist position. That, coupled with her own experience with depression, led her into doing research on how to help herself get over it.
Her wish right now is to have two psychologists in the school to help the more than 1300 students at her school.
In the whole of N.B, there are about 76 vacant full-time school psychologist positions, however, education Minister, Dominic Cardy noted that the last time they checked 39 positions had been filled.
He added that they have been trying their best to reach school psychologists, noting that it is obvious this system is not performing as expected and it’s time to find a better alternative.
This semester, Joubert is taking an independent study course. She decided it would be a great idea to look into ways to help her schoolmates get better access to mental health care.
Currently, all that the school can do is speak to their guidance and counseling staff, but is has become difficult to be slotted in for a session, and the help they get is quite limited in scope.
It is a huge challenge for Joubert to take the school’s challenge on her own, but she and a few of her classmates came up with a few ideas they hope will go a long way.
She received funding of $1500 from a government-funded organization that she plans to use to convert a waiting room into a space students can relax whenever they experience a panic attack.
She also working on a course that will teach staff and students about mental health and how they can work together to offer each other support.
The government said that it is not possible to have a psychologist at each school. Rather, Cardy noted that the government has set aside $1m to help run programs in different schools geared towards helping to offer mental health support to students.
Cardy noted there is a pilot project in the pipeline and has been a success so far at learning institutions that are offering this training to its population.