Province to build youth mental health centre in Calgary

Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation have partnered to build the facility, which will be located in the northwest community of Hounsfield Heights once it opens in around 2021.

New facility will offer walk-in service and comprehensive care in the city's northwest

Julia Caddy says she has struggled with her mental health and is hopeful that the new centre will help others. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A new centre dedicated to youth mental health is planned for Calgary. 

Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation have partnered to build the facility, which will be in the northwest community of Hounsfield Heights. It's expected to open in around 2021. 

"AHS is grateful for the partnership we have with the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation to build the first stand-alone centre for child and adolescent mental health in Calgary," said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, in a news release. 

"The foundation's commitment will help us provide the best care possible to children and youth in our community who experience mental health issues."

Walk-in service

The centre will allow youth and their families to access what AHS calls "new and enhanced services" and will include specialized triage and "the opportunity for immediate referrals to programs at the site."

There will be a walk-in service as well as intensive outpatient therapy and a day hospital program.

"Mental health is such a significant issue for young people and we all need to play our part and work together to reduce suffering for kids and families," said Saifa Koonar, president and CEO of the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, in a news release.

"The community helped build the Alberta Children's Hospital, the best facility possible for children with physical health issues. And now, together, we're going to do the same thing for young people struggling with mental health issues."

'Can't escape the problem anymore'

Julia Caddy, 19, suffered with mental health and says it's good to see the province act. 

"We can't escape the problem anymore. The society we live in is essentially fostering a lot of mental distress and we have yet to fully figure out a solution for our young people who are in such a critical stage of their life," she said the announcement of the centre. 

"I'm so happy to be living my life in this moment. I want all youth to be able to get to that point, and this centre is that chance — and that gives me so, so much hope."

AHS says the new centre will free up hospital space. 

Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2019.