“We expected when we started there was a large need. I don’t think anyone involved actually anticipated what would happen, the response we did get. It was a little overwhelming. The need is huge,” commented Wellness Centre Co-ordinator Monica Kriese as she and Dr. Richard Currie updated Official Trustee Mike McKay at the June board meeting on Tuesday about the first four months of the Wellness Centre at Sullivan Campus of Salmon Arm Secondary.
After several years of work the Wellness Centre, a legacy project of the Shuswap Local Action Team of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, held a “soft” opening on March 15th with over 200 students and 17 community service providers attending. “We were thrilled,” commented Kriese.
The momentum has continued from there. Kriese reported that they surveyed students and the most sought after service at 31.5 per cent is mental health education and support. Also being asked for was general support/someone to talk to (16.3%), Sex education & support/STI Testing (13%), recreational activities (8.7%), and drug education and suport (7.6%). Also mentioned was physical health services, a quiet/safe space and LGBTQ support.
From April 5 to May 30 the doctor spent 36 hours in the clinic, there was 43 hours of mental health counsellors in the centre, 24 hours spent by OPT sexual health nurse, 10 hours by a public health nurse, 13 hours by other community partners and 16 hours of closed group therapy sessions and meetings. “Of course this doessn’t include the time spent reporting, doing charts, prep work and meetings,” added Kriese.
“This is a remarkable project,” commented an obviously emotional McKay. “It is actually difficult, no impossible, not to get emotional when you hear reports like this. You are changing lives and saving lives. Thank you. There are kids for whom this is a safe harbour, a safe place to grow, engage and connect. Remarkable work.”
Director of Instruction (Student Learning) Dianne Ballance, who is on the committee which developed the Wellness Centre added that it has been an amazing journey, with the centre far busier than they anticipated. “It is so wonderful to see it come to fruition. It is a privilege to be part of it. Now we have other schools and districts reaching out to us to see how we got to where we are. I’m hoping it will continue and perhaps expand to other schools.”
Kriese thanked Ballance for being their “biggest cheerleader” and challenging them to fill in the gaps and develop a much better plan then they might of.