A mental health centre for Calgary youth will open on Monday in the city’s northwest, according to a news release from Alberta Health Services (AHS) Friday.
AHS said The Summit: Marian & Jim Sinneave Centre for Youth Resilience will offer mental health services to people up to and including 18 years of age, with the goal of reducing mental illness in youth through early intervention.
“The new centre will support about 8,000 patients and families every year,” AHS said.
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Julia Caddy, a member of the AHS youth advisory council, is in her 20s, and struggled with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder when she was young.
“It wasn’t until I was in junior high that it became intense enough that it was hurting me inside and out,” said Caddy.
Caddy said she had suicidal thoughts and self-harmed, and would starve herself in an attempt to cope.
“I was in such a dark place and I didn’t know how to get through that place,” she said.
She was admitted into the Alberta Children’s Hospital at 14 years old, but after her stay was done she continued to struggle with her mental health, bouncing from therapist to therapist, relapsing and ending up in hospital again.
Caddy said a centre like The Summit, where multiple services are under one roof, would have helped her as a teen.
The Summit will offer free, walk-in therapy sessions for children, youth and families, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The Ptarmigan Day Hospital will open in the centre, marking the city’s first mental-health day hospital for children, helping kids transition out of inpatient care into daily intensive therapy, AHS said.
It will also house the Tallman Family Treatment Services, to help young people manage escalating symptoms of mental illness to avoid or reduce the need for hospitalization.
Caddy said the intensive community services care will provide a level of intervention between weekly therapy visits and inpatient stays, which usually happen after a person has already attempted suicide.
“To have a service like this, where we need to step things up, we need to help you, we need you to be here multiple days a week, you can still be going to school but it’s all hands on deck, that’s really a powerful experience we’re going to be giving to youth,” said Caddy.
“Just like you could go to a walk-in clinic before your wound gets infected and your leg is about to fall off, for mental health now it’s, ‘hey, something’s not quite right, let’s go before it gets worse,’” she said.
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Dr. John Cowell, official administrator of AHS, said he hopes families will access The Summit in the same way they access any other health facility.
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“By putting a day hospital and treatment services right here in the same facility, we’re further simplifying the flow of our patients through the system, getting them the care they need,” said Cowell.
The Summit will operate in partnership with the University of Calgary, where researchers will develop, test and refine new clinical interventions, AHS said.
“The Summit will incorporate accessible mental health care with leading-edge research, so we can mobilize academic insights into the best possible clinical care for children and youth,” Ed McCauley, president of the university.
Alberta government promises $92M for youth mental health
The Alberta government said it has $10 million earmarked for the centre in the 2023 budget.
It also has $1.5 million tagged for training doctors through the Canadian Research and Education for the Advancement of Child Health (CanREACH), a program that helps physicians develop the skills needed to treat children with mental health and behavioural issues.
Alberta government dedicates $92M for more youth mental health supports
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