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B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy speaks during a news conference at Vancouver General Hospital, in Vancouver, on Dec. 1, 2017.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Schools in British Columbia are getting an extra $2-million for mental-health programs from the provincial government.

Judy Darcy, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the province is spending more on mental-health programs this year because children are facing an unprecedented return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $3.75-million will be spent in the 2020-21 school year to promote mental wellness and provide additional support for students, families and educators, Ms. Darcy told a news conference Wednesday.

School districts will determine how the funds are used based on their needs.

Ms. Darcy said she’s heard from families and teachers that they are going through a “roller coaster of emotions” as schools are set to reopen next week.

“Some people are grappling with high levels of anxiety and stress about the return to school, and others, frankly, are feeling a sense of relief after months of uncertainty.”

The government said in a news release that surveys have shown the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in mental-health and substance-use challenges.

It said there are a number of free and inexpensive counselling services that are available online, by video and by phone.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, says it is important that each school have a plan to prepare for 'inevitable' COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Canadian Press

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