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Construction starts on child, adolescent mental health centre

November 22, 2019

Community donations reach $47.2 million toward $50-million goal

CALGARY – A new Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health is one step closer to reality with today’s official ground-breaking ceremony in the northwest community of Hounsfield Heights.

Being built in partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, the centre will provide young people with new and enhanced services, including a walk-in clinic with specialized triage and the opportunity for immediate referrals to onsite programs. These community-based services will provide youth and their families with care designed to stabilize and manage escalating illness and, ideally, prevent hospitalization.

“Our government is committed to ensuring healthy futures for children and youth with mental health challenges, as well as their families,” says Premier Jason Kenney. “This centre is a great example of how innovative care can be delivered in the community. We believe it will be a tremendous source of hope and help for young people.

The centre is expected to open in the fall of 2021. In addition to the walk-in clinic, the three-storey, 3,200-sq.-m facility will also offer an intensive treatment program and a day hospital. The facility’s services will augment and integrate with existing services provided by AHS and community-based agencies.

“We know when children and youth are facing mental health issues, early intervention is key to helping them recover and lead healthy, successful lives,” says Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This centre will go a long way in helping young people build resilience, improve mental health and put them on a path toward recovery.”

Adds AHS Board Chair David Weyant: “We are pleased to officially kick off construction of the new Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Calgary. The centre will help us further our goal of providing integrated care to children and youth in our community who experience mental health issues.”

The centre will be one of the most robust research-intensive, community-based mental healthcare facilities for young people in Canada. In partnership with AHS, the research initiatives involve several faculties at the University of Calgary, led by experts from the Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Mathison Centre at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

“Beyond serving as an innovative clinical care facility, this new centre represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop and implement a world-leading mental health research program with a direct pipeline from discovery to care – all in one setting,” says Deborah Yedlin, Chancellor of the University of Calgary. “Through this centre, we will be enabling research that has never before been possible in our community.”

With design and planning work well underway, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Build Them Up campaign has already raised $47.2 million of its $50-million goal to fund construction of the centre, along with program and research enhancements. AHS will provide operational funding to staff and manage the new facility.

“We are humbled by the response – incredibly grateful to all those who have stepped up so quickly and so generously in support of the young people and families who will benefit from this centre,” says Saifa Koonar, President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Adds campaign Chair Darlene Haslam: “Whether it’s for physical or mental health, this community continues to ensure that our children receive the very best care. We’ve heard so many inspirational stories of why people want to help. We hope people continue to rally around the kids and help us raise the last $2.8 million toward our $50-million goal.”

The centre’s design, programs and research are being informed by consultations with other child and adolescent mental health centres across Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Young people and their families from Calgary are also important advisors on the initiative.

“We want to make the centre as comfortable as possible for the kids and families who will need it,” says Naomi Pearce, a member of the Centre’s Youth Advisory Council. “We hope knowing it was made just for them will encourage kids to go for help as soon as they start to struggle – before things get critical.”

Please visit www.buildthemup.ca to learn more about the campaign.

To learn more about the Centre, visit www.ahs.ca/ccamh.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation inspires our community to invest in excellence in child health, research and family-centred care. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation provides funding for innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment, advanced medical training and internationally-recognized pediatric research. Visit www.childrenshospital.ab.ca.

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.

For media inquiries, contact:

Janet Mezzarobba
AHS Communications
587-891-7395