Alberta expands mental health supports for children and families
The Redford government is giving vulnerable children and families more mental health supports, and ensuring children in care have better access to mental health specialists.
The announcement follows a two-day roundtable that discussed best practices in the child intervention system and how to strike the right balance between transparency and privacy. Hundreds of Albertans participated in the forum, including a cross-section of experts, policy makers, aboriginal representatives and people with lived experience in the child intervention system.
“Children and youth who have been abused and or neglected are often very affected by the trauma they have endured. This funding will allow us to do a better job of addressing the mental health concerns of children and youth who are receiving intervention services. This announcement is an initial step in our promise to address root causes and will put more mental health supports where they are needed.”
According to Alberta Health, one in five people will experience a mental illness; 80 per cent of mental illnesses begin in childhood. When no formal mental health care is available, children and youth are vulnerable to deterioration in their conditions, behaviours, acute-life-threatening behaviours and severe emotional distress.
Mental health is a contributing root cause that brings children and families to the attention of child intervention services. The $5 million invested by the government will:
- Introduce three best practice sites in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer to provide increased mental health services to children and youth
- Provide children and youth in care who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or neglect with better access to mental health specialists.
- Provide child intervention staff with instant access to expert clinical/medical consultation that will help them better understand available psychiatric treatment plans and appropriate medications
- Provide crisis mental health supports for high-needs children and offer effective strategies to help foster parents and other caregivers; and
- Develop a cross-ministry mental health action plan that will enhance and sustain a high-level of supports for children involved with child intervention and expand the reach to support all children and families with mental health needs in Alberta.
“Making sure that Alberta children, including those receiving intervention services and their families are supported is critical to the future health of our province. By investing in their mental health, we are building a healthier, more productive and more rewarding future for these children, their families, and all of us.”
“The events that lead to children being taken into care are a challenge to the resilience of any child and their family. This investment is certainly a commitment by the people of Alberta to address addiction and mental health issues earlier rather than later. This is good medicine that will make a positive difference to the lives of children, youth and families.”
Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.