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Alberta Children Receive Greater Access To Mental Health Services

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Children and youth from across the province will benefit from an Alberta government investment of more than $50 million to increase access to children’s mental health services and address the mental health needs of children and youth at risk.

The three-year investment will implement the 23 actions outlined in Alberta’s new Children’s Mental Health Three-Year Action Plan. The new funding will improve access to a full range of children’s mental health services across Alberta, particularly in rural areas. It will also help youth at risk make successful transitions to adulthood. The plan will build on initiatives already underway and support new programs that meet the unique needs of local communities.

“It is so important that children and youth with mental health problems have access to services as early as possible,” said Dr. Raj Sherman, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Wellness. “Without early treatment and support, mental health issues can persist throughout one’s life. I am confident this new plan will give Alberta’s children and youth the opportunity to live to their full potential.”

Actions to improve access include:

* implementing access standards for mental health services;

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* hiring more mental health workers for emergency rooms and urgent clinics;

* creating mobile mental health teams to provide services to rural and remote areas;

* establishing more inpatient mental health beds for children and youth from northern Alberta; and

* providing enhanced community services for youth with mental health problems who are transitioning to adulthood.

In addition, the mental health needs of children and youth at risk will be better met by: enhancing in-school mental health services; expanding home visitation services for vulnerable families; increasing the number of mental health consultants on hospital pediatric units; and enhancing screening and intervention programs.

The Children’s Mental Health Three-Year Action Plan is one of the components of the Alberta government’s Health Action Plan aimed at increasing access and efficiencies in Alberta’s health system.