PRINCE ALBERT -- The Government of Saskatchewan is spending $400,000 on mental health first aid training in Saskatchewan schools.

This would make mental health first aid available to students when needed, similar to physical first aid. The training teaches people to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help and guide a person toward appropriate professional help.

Doug Kinar teaches mental health first aid and is the executive director of the Prince Albert branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“I think the more people we train the better, the commitment of $400,000 is wonderful. I'm not sure it will go far enough but it's a start. What we have to remember is we are on a journey to mental health and getting positive mental health in our communities, he said.

The training was a recommendation from the Minister’s 2019-20 Youth Council. Tia-Lee McCallum, a member of the council, said any help for mental health training would help youth.

“Students are so secretive, especially teens. We don't know how to tell people about our problems. We get pushed to think that we are weak if you talk about our problems,” McCallum said.

The Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division said it has already provided mental health training to more than 200 teachers and staff.

“We're four years into our mental health action plan here at Sask. Rivers. And we've been making training available to our school teams universally, not just for one person per school, but for entire teams in most case around mental health literacy which is very similar to mental health first aid,” superintendent Tom Michaud said.

In a news release, Education Minister Dustin Duncan said the province’s goal is to have at least one staff member in each school receive training by December 2021.