New centre to offer mental health services for youth
Alberta Health Services announces purpose-built community-based facility to improve access for families
The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation is partnering with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to build a Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health to help ensure mentally healthy futures for young people in our community.
The new facility will be home to a mental health walk-in service, intensive outpatient therapy and a day hospital program where families can receive specialized triage and the opportunity for immediate referrals to programs at the site.
“AHS is grateful for the partnership we have with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation to build the first stand-alone centre for child and adolescent mental health in Calgary,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, President & CEO, Alberta Health Services. “The Foundation’s commitment will help us provide the best care possible to children and youth in our community who experience mental health issues.”
“Mental health is such a significant issue for young people that we all need to play our part and work together to reduce suffering for kids and families,” said Saifa Koonar, President & CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The community helped build the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the best facility possible for children with physical health issues. And now, together, we’re going to do the same thing for young people struggling with mental health issues.”
By offering new expanded services in the community, families will benefit from a broad spectrum of programming that will help stabilize and manage escalating illness with the goal of preventing hospitalization.
“This unique partnership between the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and AHS speaks to the importance of helping connect more children and teens to the mental health supports they need to live fulfilling, healthy lives,” said Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health. “I thank the Foundation and its donors for their commitment and generosity in supporting expanded health care delivery for Calgary families.”
This less-institutional delivery approach offers more readily available mental health services in the community, making it more convenient for patients and families to access treatment. The new Centre will provide a comprehensive continuum of coordinated, integrated, and seamless intervention services for youth suffering from mental health disorders, and their families.
“I can only imagine what a difference something like this Centre could have made for me five years ago,” said Julia Caddy, a patient ambassador who shared her personal story to raise awareness for the Centre. “I am beyond joyful to know that youth will have more opportunities to get the help they need as soon as they need it.”
Planning is underway to develop vacant AHS land in northwest Calgary, in the community of Hounsfield Heights - Briar Hill. AHS will work with its partners, patients and families, and the community throughout the planning, development and implementation of the project. Construction will begin in Fall 2019 and is expected to take about two years.
To learn more about this exciting project, please visit www.buildthemup.ca.
My name is Julia Caddy. I’m 19 years old and I’m happy to say that I’ve just finished my first year of university – and first year away from home - at McGill in Montreal.
Today, in Canada, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people in my age group. I know way too many teenagers who have tried to take their lives. And way too many who have wanted to. In fact, I’m one of them.
When I was in grade 8, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was prescribed medication and I went to weekly counselling, but in January of grade nine, I was hospitalized because I was suicidal and had developed an eating disorder.
This might sound weird, but I actually didn’t think I was “sick enough” to need help. There’s so much stigma around mental health, and the way it’s portrayed in the media is so sensational that—since I didn’t look like those people on TV or in those ads—I didn’t think I deserved the help I needed. I didn’t have cancer. I didn’t have a broken leg. I had a broken mind. And since it was my mind that was broken, I found myself faced not with chemotherapy or a cast but instead with shame and denial.
Looking back now, I understand that what I was dealing with was just as serious as other life-threatening illnesses kids are facing in this hospital. But I didn’t get it back then.
Once I got here, a team of incredible people saved my life. They intervened medically…and then helped me find myself again. I’m in a much better place today and am so grateful to have gotten the care I needed in time. I owe this hospital my life.
The sad thing is there are too many young people who don’t know what to do when they’re overwhelmed by mental health issues. They don’t know where to turn for help. Or sometimes, even if they do know they can go to Emergency, they’re nervous about going to a hospital.
So when I heard about the new Centre, I was thrilled. And hopeful. And grateful that people want to build a place for young people just like me. It’s a chance to remove some of the stigma. And to provide help for kids as soon as they’re not feeling well.
I’m sharing my story today because I believe it’s incredibly important to talk about mental health – to normalize conversations about it. Actually, I think teenagers deserve some credit for talking about it way more than people my parents’ or my grandparents’ age ever did.
I truly believe ours is the generation that can change how the world approaches mental health.
Of course we can’t do it alone. We need initiatives like this Centre. And we need support and understanding from more people like all of you.
To all the individuals & families who are facing mental illness:
I promise you there is light. I have found my light again, and the hope is that this Centre will bring back that light to each and every young person who finds themselves in darkness.
Thank you again for including me today. And I encourage everyone – no matter how young or old you are – to take care of yourselves and ask for help if you need support.