Child and Youth Counselling (CYC) Services
Northwest Territories (NWT) Child and Youth Counselling (CYC) services provide mental health and wellness supports to students, as well as school-aged youth and their families, within schools and communities.
The initiative was launched in the 2018-19 school year and rolled out over four years to include all NWT schools. Through the initiative, child and youth clinical counsellors hired by the NWT health and social services authorities were placed in NWT schools and communities that had more than 75 students (37 schools), and a contracted travelling mental health support team provided service to schools with fewer than 75 students (12 schools).
In an effort to improve these supports for students, youth and families, starting in the 2023-24 school year, there will be changes to how CYC services are funded and delivered. While students and families may see changes as CYC services go through the remodel, mental health services will be available in schools and communities during the 2023-24 school year.
This change allows us to continue with a team approach to mental health and wellness both through the education and health systems that will provide wraparound supports to children and youth.
School-based mental health providers
Education bodies will now receive approximately 55% of funding for these services so they can directly provide mental health supports for children and youth in schools, particularly for prevention and intervention services.
Prevention and intervention services promote resilience and help reduce students and youths’ exposure to risk factors. These include strategies to help address mental health needs, like self-help tools, peer support and workshops (i.e., anger management, increasing wellness), and information for classes and individual students. School-based supports that focus on prevention have the potential to reduce severe mental health concerns.
Mental health services based in schools can be localized and unique to the specific needs of a region and community. They can also include Indigenous teachings and practices rooted in the land, language, culture and spirituality of the community. A mental health provider based in a school is part of that unique community and can form relationships with the student population as a whole.
The NWT health and social services authorities will retain approximately 45% of current funding to provide clinical counselling services to children and youth through local Community Counselling services. Health and social services authorities will retain services for supporting youth with clinical counselling needs, including helping families navigate services, such as psychiatry, specialized treatment, and addictions supports.
Students and families will access these mental health services through their local Community Counselling Program. The health and social services authorities have a consent process in place that can allow sharing of information between school-based mental health providers and Child and Youth Counsellors that aligns with privacy requirements, such as those under the Health Information Act. This can help support consistency of care and wraparound supports for children and youth.
What to expect
These two systems will continue to work collaboratively to support children and youth in the NWT.
The delivery of mental health and wellness services may look different in each region. Each education body will receive funding to hire its own mental health providers and decide how services will be delivered in their regions, while ensuring that students have access to mental health supports.
Schools will likely use their school-based support team to identify students at risk and refer them to the school-based mental health provider; students and parents can also self-refer as needed. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment will be responsible for supporting education bodies to coordinate wraparound supports in schools.
During this transition, accessing mental health and wellness supports through the health system may also look different in each region. No referrals are needed, students and parents can self refer. Local health centres and the Community Counselling Program will always have the latest information on what services are available and how to access them. For information on how to contact the Community Counselling Program in your region please visit: https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/en/contact/community-counsellor.
Depending on the region, school-based mental health services may be limited or unavailable during the summer months or when school is not in session. However, schools will still provide students and families with information about accessing mental health services during that time. Counselling Services offered through the Community Counselling program will continue to be available year-round.
Evaluation of CYC services
The GNWT launched an evaluation of the CYC initiative in September 2022 to determine how effective CYC services are and how its implementation in all NWT schools and communities has been for students, youth and families.
Information about the program was collected through a document review, analysis of administrative data, focus groups, interviews, and written submissions provided by 250 individuals, including feedback gathered from students, youth and their families, and other program partners and stakeholders, about how the CYC initiative has worked for them and if there are ways to improve it.
The GNWT hired an independent third-party contractor, DPRA Canada Inc., to lead the evaluation. Participation in the evaluation was voluntary, and the identities of participants who provided feedback were kept confidential.
DPRA will present its findings to the GNWT and provide feedback and recommendations for program improvements. The final evaluation report will be made public once finalized.