May 8, 2024

Strengthening mental health supports in Alberta schools

University of Calgary partners with Calgary Board of Education and Converge Mental Health Coalition to build capacity of student services staff

Calgary, AB – In response to the mounting mental health challenges faced by today's youth, the University of Calgary is taking proactive steps to address the pressing need for improved mental health support within educational settings. Collaborating with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and the Converge Mental Health Coalition, this initiative underscores our commitment to prioritizing student wellbeing and ensuring they have access to the necessary resources and support systems.

As part of the City of Calgary’s Change Can’t Wait initiative, two centres at UCalgary – the Centre for Wellbeing in Education and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education – will undertake a comprehensive review of research focusing on the crucial skills, knowledge, and competencies student services staff require to nurture adolescent mental health.

“The emergence of mental health challenges among our youth highlights the urgent need for reinforced systems within our schools. Our collaboration with CBE and Converge Mental Health aims to equip student services teams with the necessary tools and training to respond effectively to these challenges.”

Dr. Jennifer Turner, EdD, Director, Centre for Wellbeing, Werklund School of Education

"Our collaborative research with the CBE will lead to evidence-based programs for students at early stages of developing mental health concerns. With depression, ADHD, behaviour problems, and anxiety common among youth, our targeted interventions, alongside existing strategies like the 'Go to Educator' program, will elevate our support for student mental health." 

Dr. Paul Arnold, MD, PhD, Director, Mathison Centre, Cumming School of Medicine

The findings from the environmental scan will be used to develop a research-based universal framework for student support and inform the creation of a professional learning series that will be piloted by student services staff within the CBE. These sessions will help provide more consistent guidance and resources at various levels, ensuring CBE can offer standardized and comprehensive care for student wellbeing.

"This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to enhance CBE’s ongoing efforts in supporting the positive mental health and wellbeing of students. Student wellbeing is a key priority for our board, and we look forward to piloting the framework and professional learning series in CBE schools.”

Joanne Pitman, Chief Superintendent of Schools, Calgary Board of Education

"Collaboration is key to addressing the mental health needs of today's youth. By pooling our collective expertise and resources, we can devise innovative solutions to bolster student wellbeing and create a more inclusive and nurturing education environment." 

Gena Rotstein, Managing Director, Converge Mental Health Coalition

The professional learning series is currently under development and will be piloted at the school level in summer 2024.


Media inquiries

NOTE: Jennifer Turner, Paul Arnold, Joanne Pitman and Gena Rotstein are available for interviews Wednesday, May 8 to Friday, May 10. Contact the respective communications representative below to make arrangements.  

Clayton MacGillivray
Content and Media Specialist, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary

Kelly Johnston
Senior Communications Specialist, Media Relations, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Kara Layher
Communications Advisor, Calgary Board of Education

Alana Salsberg
Marketing/Communications, Converge Mental Health Coalition

About the University of Calgary
UCalgary is Canada’s entrepreneurial university, located in Canada’s most enterprising city. It is a top research university and one of the highest-ranked universities of its age. Founded in 1966, its 35,000 students experience an innovative learning environment, made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. It is Canada’s leader in the creation of start-ups. Start something today at the University of Calgary.

For more information, visit Stay up to date with UCalgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For access to UCalgary news releases, images and b-roll, and details on faculties and how to reach experts, check out our newsroom at

About the Calgary Board of Education
As the largest school district in Western Canada, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) offers a depth and breadth of programs and support to meet the unique learning needs and interests of an increasingly diverse population. We focus on personalizing the learning experience so that each student is engaged, inspired and learning to their full potential.

CBE is a leader in education and is proud of our students and the outstanding results they continue to achieve.

About Converge Mental Health Coalition
Established in 2022, Converge responds to the urgent need for systemic change in how mental health services are accessed, deployed, and integrated. With over 90 organizations and individuals representing a diverse cross-section of sectors and industries across Canada, Converge supports mental health providers, agencies, and stakeholders to identify gaps and collaborate on solutions, driving improved and more efficient policy and technological advancements to support the changes.