Job Title: Psychologist, Elk Island School Division
Why She’s Top 40: She’s a passionate advocate for mental-health services for students, teachers and staff in her district
During her nine years with Elk Island Catholic School Division – first as a counselor, then as a psychologist – Brea Malacad has helped countless students recognize their strengths through direct consultations, research and systemic changes.
She’s been credited among her peers as single-handedly establishing a professional development program in the district to deal with potentially violent incidents. Formally introduced for the 2017-2018 school year, the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) protocol she’s been working on will be the first initiative of its kind in Strathcona County. It not only includes training programs for staff and an awareness campaign for parents, VTRA also amalgamates several services and agencies – from the RCMP to Alberta Health Services – to ensure faster reaction times to potentially violent incidents in the division’s schools.
“That’s no small feat and I think it does make a big difference when it comes to the safety and openness in our schools,” says Malacad, who also wants to bring more mental-health literacy programs into the system. “People will know what to do when they’re presented with a potential threat. If you hear about a threat of violence or somebody at risk, we have a very systematic way to respond to that.”
A wife and mother of two young children, Malacad is a fierce promoter of mental health and how critical it is to aid in a child’s development.
“Kids who aren’t well or engaged can’t learn,” she says. “If we don’t show them empathy and help them feel loved, supportive and safe, they are never going to be able to do that for other people.”
It’s that need to help others that drew her into becoming a child psychologist, an occupation she says she’s always wanted to pursue as long as she can remember.
“I just like the idea of being a helper, a nurturer and listener. I really benefited the people all around me who just love me unconditionally and show me that empathy, so it was easy for me to do that for others.”