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Mental health clubs worried about funding

By Lianelle Barraza, March 15 2016 —

Student groups are concerned about mental health services at the University of Calgary if provincial funding is not renewed. Three million dollars in mental health funding for the province’s three largest post-secondary institutions expires this August, and the government has yet to say if the funding will be renewed.

Mental Health Awareness club vice-president internal affairs Rena Far said the funding helps support services like the SU Student Wellness Centre.

“If any [funds] were to get taken away, the biggest issue is that demand for these services is always rising,” Far said. “If the supply of services can’t meet the demand, then what we do and what the Wellness Centre does can only go so far.”

Far said the mental-health focused clubs comprising the Mental Health Alliance have done their best to prepare for the potential drop in funding.

“One thing we’re doing in the Alliance is trying to make better use of what little money we’re going to have to promote our initiatives,” Far said. “We can use each other as a resource and use our connections to really get people to attend events and raise awareness without really flashy or expensive promotions.”

Students’ Union vice-president external Romy Garrido wouldn’t speculate on the chances of funding getting renewed in an interview, but said at Students’ Legislative Council that it wasn’t looking good.

“There’s a lot of different services that have been added [to the SU Wellness Centre] because of the fund,” Garrido said. “It is hard to say, but logically if there’s no more funding we’d be worried.”

Senior director student wellness Debbie Bruckner said the university has not received notice that funding will continue.

“Discussion with the provincial authorities continue and there has been significant work on the part of the U of C,” she said.

Bruckner said the university believes provincial authorities recognize the importance of the mental health services offered to students on campus.

“We have developed a number of scenarios to support students based on various levels of funding,” Bruckner said. “As we roll out the Mental Health Strategy, it is critical that we continue to support our students, faculty and staff in this essential area for health and well-being.”

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