Promoting Youth Health in Nova Scotia

Your Liberal government has announced four Nova Scotia high schools will pilo9t a new model for youth health centres. The model will be designed in partnership with students, teachers, administrators, SchoolsPlus staff, youth health centre coordinators, and other health and education stakeholders.

“Schools play an important role in promoting health and connecting young people to the help they need,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “We want to make it easier for youth to access the services and supports they need – from mental health and addictions, to physical and sexual health – when and where they need it.”

The following schools will participate in the pilot:

• Amherst Regional High School
• Citadel High School
• Glace Bay High School
• Digby Regional High School (new youth health centre)

The pilot project will see stakeholders help develop a consistent approach to youth health across the province. It will focus on youth-friendly access to integrated services and supports that promote wellness and help students stay healthy and do better in school.

An expert panel on youth health provides guidance and direction to government on this project.

Panel members are:

• Dr. Stan Kutcher, Sun Life Financial Chair in adolescent mental health (panel chair)
• Dr. Alexa Bagnell, interim chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, IWK Health Centre
• Dr. John LeBlanc, pediatrician, IWK Health Centre
• Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac, professor and Canada Research Chair in early childhood diversity and transitions, Mount Saint Vincent University

“Youth health centres are already a go-to place for support and services in many schools,” said Dr. Kutcher, expert panel chair. “By building on what’s working and making improvements with youth in mind, we will be able to reach young people earlier and more often.”

Youth health centres have been in many Nova Scotia schools for more than 14 years, and are now in 70 junior high and high schools across the province. They offer a range of services, including health education, health promotion, information and referral, follow-up support, and some clinical services. SchoolsPlus, which will expand to all schools by the end of the 2018-19 school year, is often hosted within a youth health centre.

Better integrating youth health services was one of four recommendations put forward by the Minister’s Panel on Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions. Your Liberal government committed $1 million in the 2018/19 budget to advance this work. The pilot will begin in January 2019.