File Photo.

Sylvan Lake Youth Services receives grant for mental health programming

The Alberta Health Services grant will be put towards running the Community Helpers Project

Sylvan Lake Youth Services, through SPARC, has received a grant from Alberta Health Services.

The $171,666 over three years will be used to kick start the Community Helpers Project.

The program and funding helps youth and adults with how to be helpers in the community.

“When youth are going through hard times, maybe struggling with mental health issues, thoughts of suicide, how can we as just community members helps those kids,” said Krista Carlson, FCSS Youth Services supervisor, of the program’s purpose.

She says it is not always up to the professionals because sometimes kids won’t access those services.

“They’re kind of like a middle person, so it’s kind of bridging that formal and informal resources and services that are out there,” said Carlson, adding a youth’s primary role as a Community Helper will be to connect a troubled friend with an adult.

Carlson also explained it will help to minimize the stigma around mental health and suicide.

“We need to have open conversations about that and that it’s not a scary as it seems,” said Carlson. “It’ll help people reach out a little bit more because it’s not going to be so stigmatized.”

She says they will be looking to identify “natural helpers” in the community when it comes time for training.

Individuals who others may turn to for help include coaches, youth workers, peers, volunteers or business owners.

“We’re going to ask the kids ‘who do you go to if you’re having struggles’ and we want them to name maybe a peer or maybe an adult or both,” said Carlson.

She says she knows there are already a lot of great helpers in the community.

“We see people out volunteering and we have larger and larger numbers of people helping out in the mentoring programs or in our leadership programs and we just want to be able to give them even better skills to be better helpers,” Carlson added.

Carlson explained the funding, which will be divided equally over three years, will be used to hire the coordinator of the program and provide training to those who will be a part of the program.

Youth Services is hoping to do official training starting in September as the program’s coordinator has just been hired.

The curriculum has been set out by Alberta Health Services and is research based.

The training will be free of charge to anyone in the program.

“We’re just really going to try and make it fun and interactive and interesting for those guys, so we’ll have people in the community ready to help,” Carlson explained.

Other communities have been running the program for several years, and the organization in Red Deer who runs it does outreach to other communities.

“We really wanted this to be a program that’s centred in Sylvan Lake and we’ll likely do some outreach to some of our other rural communities close by,” said Carlson.

The grant will be enough to fund the project over the next three years, but sustainability past then is no guarantee.

Carlson said they are going to start working right away on maintaining the funding going further into the future.

Just Posted

A Beacon of Hope shines in Sylvan Lake

A fundraiser for the Safe Harbour Society to educate about opioid addiction was held on July 13

Gas prices in Sylvan Lake higher than surrounding area

The gas in town is being sold with a retail margin of about four to seven cents a litre

Sylvan Lake Hockey Camp hits 45 year milestone

The long-running hockey camp sees kids come from all over the world every year

Sylvan Lake business releases new loose leaf teas

Laurie Breeze and English Rose Tea Rooms have released Mrs. B’s Loose Leaf Teas

Customs and Classics revved into Sylvan Lake

The 13th annual show had 163 cars parked on the Meadowlands Golf Club driving range July 13

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Natural gas producers demand government action in open letter to Kenney

The letter warns that the viability of the natural gas sector is in jeopardy

Remains of missing Edmonton woman discovered outside of North Battleford: RCMP

The 25-year-old Edmonton woman was reported missing on May 12

Companies to appear before panel today in public inquiry into B.C. gas prices

A three-member panel by B.C. Utilities Commission will listen to up to four days of oral hearings

Interviews with family of highway shooting victim heard in Calgary court

Horst Stewin’s relatives were set to testify by video from Germany this morning, but a court translator said she was unable to proceed

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

Most Read