Mental health association awarded Public Education Award

May 29, 2018 Kim Dewar, ATA News Staff

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Alberta Division was honoured with the Public Education Award at this year’s Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) in Calgary on May 19.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association presents the award to an individual or group that has shown outstanding support to public education in Alberta, other than through teaching. The CMHA was selected due to its support of student mental health, through an ATA partnership known as Healthy Minds, Bright Futures.

David Grauwiler, executive director of the CMHA Alberta division, accepted the award to a standing ovation by delegates in Calgary, as he thanked the assembly for the “tremendous honour.”

“Teachers are on the front line of support and many tell us of the needs that are growing exponentially within their classrooms and the limited resources available to them,” Grauwiler said.

Since 2009, the collaboration between the CMHA and the ATA has aimed to promote children’s positive mental health, increase awareness about their mental health needs and decrease the stigma that’s often associated with mental illness. The partnership has involved a number of specific projects such as the Can We Talk? campaign and the recently revamped classroom resource, Compassionate Classrooms.

In presenting the award, ATA vice-president Jenny Regal expressed gratitude to the CMHA.

“On behalf of the teachers of Alberta, I would like to thank you, because the work of your organization has truly made a difference in the lives of teachers and students in Alberta,” she said.

“These projects have been a tremendous entry point for the conversation on mental health in our province,” Grauwiler said. “Like physical health, mental health is important to all Albertans. All of us have mental health.”

“An award such as this does not suggest an end to a chapter in the partnership. Rather it is a call to action — to invigorate and respond to the growing need through new mindful and innovative approaches in support of student and teacher mental health and well-being.” ❚

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