More Help for More Young People

More Help for More Young People

Did you know?
In Calgary, emerging adults make up less than 11% of the population, yet account for 29% of mental health inpatients and 23% of outpatients.

The Summit: Marian & Jim Sinneave Centre for Youth Resilience is Calgary’s first community-based mental health centre for youth people. As Calgarians rallied to help fund its construction, it became clear there was an urgent need to support an equally vulnerable population of emerging adults. As a result, work is now underway in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the University of Calgary to improve and expand the mental health care provided to 16-to-24-year-olds.

Over the past year, Dr. Melissa Potestio, the project lead, conducted an extensive engagement process with dozens of young people, their families, AHS and community partners. This consensus-building exercise prioritized innovative solutions to improve the experience and health outcomes of emerging adults seeking mental health and addiction services in the Calgary area.

“It was critical to learn from the wisdom of those young people who have actually accessed – or tried to access – mental health supports in our community,” says Dr. Potestio. “Through seeking to understand their lived experiences, we’ve co-created a road map to help bridge gaps and provide evidence-based care in a way that meets the unique needs of this age group.”

“It was therapeutic in a way. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in the issues that I faced with the mental health system. It was also nice to talk about these issues with the hopes of changing the system for the better somehow.”

– Engagement session participant

A new Emerging Adult Service is currently being offered and evaluated at two demonstration clinics resulting in substantially decreased wait times. The Emerging Adult Service uses a webbased platform to allow clients to share real-time data with their providers to guide their treatment and ensure they receive the right intensity of services the first time. The service will also launch several of the innovative solutions prioritized by young people, while planning for the remaining solutions continues.

Did you know?
Approximately 22,000 emerging adults in our city access addiction and mental health support through Alberta Health Services. Experts believe thousands more are not accessing care.

“It’s just the beginning,” says Dr. Potestio. “It’s gratifying to know that the community is behind this work and understands how important it is that we provide young adults the support they need sooner and in a way that works best for their critical stage of life and development.” With generous community support, the ultimate goal is to establish a hub – a blend of virtual and physical space – where emerging adults and their families know they can turn to get help.

Visit to learn how your support for this initiative will help save lives, reduce suffering and improve life-long potential for thousands of young people struggling with their mental health.

This story is included in our Spring 2023 Just 4 Kids newsletter, make sure you check out the other amazing stories!
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