An update on mental health services in the East-Central region

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, around 50 per cent of the adult population in Canada will have dealt with a mental health issue of some sort or other by age 40.

The issues Canadians face could range from low-grade depression and stress, occupational or financial, to full-blown mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a range of personality disorders or other issues.

One sector that has seen a particularly sharp rise in mental health awareness of late is agriculture, with organizations like the Do More Agriculture Foundation bringing awareness and support to those in industry.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether one is living in a dense urban area like Calgary or Edmonton or in the furthest reaches of Special Areas around Consort, anyone can develop mental health related issues; however, people don’t always know where to go for help.

Public mental health services in Stettler and Paintearth counties and the Special Areas around Consort are administered by the professionals based out of Stettler Addiction and Mental Health.

Stettler Addiction and Mental Health services provides addiction counselling, short-term adult counselling and children’s counselling out of its office in the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre, while also providing a base for seniors outreach and assertive outreach staff to work out of.

Staff also work out of Castor, Coronation and Consort hospitals with a varying schedule.

Castor is provided children’s mental health counselling on Monday’s and alternate Thursdays; addictions counselling on alternate Tuesdays and adult counselling on Wednesdays.

Coronation is provided addiction counselling on alternate Mondays; adult counselling on Tuesdays and Thursdays and children’s counselling on alternate Wednesdays.

Consort is provided adult counselling on alternate Mondays and children’s counselling on alternating Fridays.

Assertive outreach is offered to all three communities on Fridays as well, and seniors outreach is available as required.

The mental health therapist who works with adults provides short-term counselling to clients struggling with depression, anxiety, mood changes or suicidal thoughts. The children’s therapist description is the same, though the way they tackle client care is substantially different.

Addictions counsellors work with and support clients struggling with alcohol and substance abuse issues.

The assertive outreach staff work with adults who experience “severe and long-term, complex” mental health issues.

Seniors outreach staff work with seniors while providing assessments, consultation and education.

According to Tracy Kennedy, a senior communications advisor with Alberta Health Services (AHS), wait times for new clients to be seen by an adult, children’s or addiction therapist is around two weeks while wait time for outreach is slightly longer.

Kennedy says that the wait times do fluctuate depending on the demand for service.

All the services provided through the clinic are offered at no charge through AHS and individuals believing they, their children or elders in their lives that need therapy can self-refer by calling 1-888-594-0211 from Monday to Friday in between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Referrals can also be made through Healthlink at 811 or through your family physician.

For those in need of immediate mental health assistance, contact the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642, the Addiction line at 1-866-332-2322, or text the Crisis Text line at 741741.

In case of imminent harm to self or others, call 911.

The statistics say that at least half of Canadians will have to deal with a mental health issue during their lives. It doesn’t have to be a lonely path; help is available.

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