New Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre Coming for Calgary

Alberta Health Services, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation join forces to bring new and improved services, more timely access to care

Story by Lisa Sutherland | Photo by Blain Fairbairn

Patient ambassador Julia Caddy, along with Julie Kerr, Senior Operating Officer, Community, Rural and Mental Health; Dr. Sid Viner, Medical Director, Calgary Zone; Saifa Koonar, President and CEO, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation; and AHS Board Vice-Chair Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn announce plans to build a centre for child and adolescent mental health to help ensure timely access to appropriate mental health supports in the community.

CALGARY — In partnership with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Health Services is building a centre for child and adolescent mental health here to help ensure timely access to appropriate mental health supports.

For patient ambassador Julia Caddy, this is great news for young people in the community.

“I can only imagine what a difference something like this centre could have made for me five years ago,” says Caddy, who shared her personal story at the announcement. “I am beyond joyful to know that youth will have more opportunities to get the help they need, as soon as they need it.”

This new centre will serve young people and their families with new and enhanced services, including 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 and 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.”

Planning is underway to develop vacant AHS land adjacent to Youth Addictions Services in northwest Calgary, in the community of Hounsfield Heights, which will be home to a mental health walk-in service, intensive outpatient therapy and a day hospital program.

“Mental health is such a significant issue for young people and we all need to play our part and work together to reduce suffering for kids and families,” says Saifa Koonar, President and 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 these 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 stays in hospital.

This community-care delivery approach helps free up much-needed hospital space and will offer 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 acute mental health disorders, and their families.

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.