Improving the mental health and well-being of Alberta’s children and youth is an important focus for Alberta Health Services. Early support and intervention are vital, as research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
Our work is based around the actions reflected in Valuing Mental Health (VMH): Next Steps, released in June 2017. The VMH: Next Steps document aligns with the Government of Alberta's community-based health vision by improving continuity of Addiction & Mental Health services and supports within the health system and in the community. VMH actions focus on coordinating and integrating services across health and with community service providers with an emphasis on meeting the needs of vulnerable and underserved Albertans with Addiction & Mental Health needs.
One of the priority focus areas is on children, youth and families. Studies show that half of those who develop mental health disorders show symptoms in their early teens. Focusing on prevention and early intervention for children, youth and families will support these individuals before they reach a crisis point. This will not only benefit them, but their families, the community and the province.
Alberta Health Services has also developed a number of publications and resources designed to support children and youth's mental health initiatives. These can be accessed at Addiction & Mental Health publications and resources.