New clinic centralizes addiction, mental health supports

April 6, 2017

Access Open Minds streamlines access to services for residents ages 11 to 25

EDMONTON – A new local clinic, opening Tuesday, will offer a centralized option for addiction and mental health services and supports for local and area residents ages 11 to 25.

Access Open Minds, also known as Access OM, will be staffed by three psychiatrists and two clinicians with a background in social work. The clinicians will screen clients to determine what services are needed and then co-ordinate those services. Psychiatric services can be provided within the clinic; other services may be provided at other Alberta Health Services (AHS) or community-based sites.

All existing addiction and mental health clinics and services offered through AHS for this age group will continue to provide service. The Access OM clinic is an option specifically for the older adolescent and young adult.

“The opening of Access OM will streamline access to a wide range of mental health and addiction services for youth and young adults in this city,” says Dr. Kathryn Todd, AHS executive lead for addiction and mental health.

“Addiction and mental illness are complex issues, so we want to simplify how people can get the supports they need as promptly as possible. I believe this clinic’s centralized model for assessment, treatment and referral will ease stress and reduce confusion among youth, young adults and their loved ones who are looking for help.”

The clinic is located at the Bill Rees YMCA, 10211 105 St. N.W. Clients can be referred to the clinic by a family physician. Walk-ins are also accepted or clients can book an appointment by calling 780-415-0048.

Program manager Katherine Hay says the Access OM clinic will also improve continuity of care for young adults, as clients will no longer need to transition from pediatric services to adult services when they turn 18.

“This clinic is really needs-based, not age-based,” says Hay. “If a client comes to us at age 17, and is making progress with ongoing support, his care team shouldn’t change in a year when he officially becomes an adult.

His needs haven’t changed; in fact, his needs may have expanded as he enters young adulthood. Access OM delays the transition to adult-only services for several years to ensure continuity of care during a crucial period in a young person’s life.

“Previously, some clients would lose access to program and family supports once they turned 18. At Access OM, these clients won’t lose these important supports as soon as they enter adulthood.”

Edmonton becomes the 12th community in Canada – and first in Alberta – with an Access OM clinic, which is an initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF).

The two organizations opened the first Access OM clinic three years ago with the goal of strengthening the co-operation and co-ordination between health systems and community-based addiction and mental health agencies. 

The initiative is part of a research project at McGill University in Montreal that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of this centralized model.

CIHR and GBF are providing $1.6 million over five years to fund the Edmonton clinic. AHS is contributing its child and young adult addiction and mental health programming.

Clinicians at the local Access OM clinic will provide support for about 30 clients per month.

AHS will continue to operate its addiction and mental health intake phone lines for children and families (780-342-2701) and adults (780-342-7700).

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Korey Cherneski
AHS Communications