Picture of Calgary's future mental health centre for kids, teens takes shape

The three-storey, 34,400-square-foot facility will provide a 12-hour mental health and addictions walk-in clinic, a day hospital with therapy for youth discharged from the hospital and intensive treatment for families and youth.

Facility will offer walk-in mental health clinic, day hospital and therapy

The building will be constructed to be attractive to children and youth. (Alberta Health Services)

The vision for a new mental health centre for kids, teens and young adults in Calgary is starting to take shape.

Alberta Health Services has released artist renderings for the planned Calgary Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, scheduled to open in late 2021 in the northwest community of Hounsfield Heights.

The three-storey, 34,400-square-foot facility will provide a 12-hour mental health and addictions walk-in clinic, a day hospital with therapy for youth discharged from the hospital and intensive treatment for families and youth.

"We kind of spent a lot time looking at where the greatest needs were and how we could meet those needs, and develop services accordingly," said the new centre's program manager, Ryan Clements.​

AHS has hired a consultant, Calgary-based Sahuri + Partners Architecture Inc., to work on plans for the building. A cost estimate will be determined once those plans are complete, the department said. Construction is set to begin in fall 2019.

This is an artist's rendering of the view of the main entrance for the future Calgary Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. (Alberta Health Services)

The goal for the centre is to free up space in the hospital and provide those aged 18 or younger and their families with targeted mental health care.

The day hospital program, for example, will offered supervised care involving individual, family and group therapy, medication management, music, art and recreational therapy, educational support and outreach for in-home and in-school support.

Changing cycle

The goal would be to transition patients from around-the-clock care to eight to 10 hours of daily intensive therapy, while being able to stay in their own homes overnight.

"Often times, without that kind of support, those kids kind of struggle reintegrating into lots of natural settings," Clements said. "The cycle kind of continues and they end up back in emerg and then back in inpatient. So we really want to support those kids in a different way."

The building's proximity to the hospital and the University of Calgary will help with future research projects. (Alberta Health Services)

The walk-in clinic can offer a few days of therapy sessions for patients and their families, development of safety plans, access to psychiatrists and referrals to other programs.

There will also be intensive treatment options, lasting up to two weeks, of one to four hours daily of individual, group or family therapy sessions to manage escalating symptoms and avoid hospitalization.

This is what the building will look like from 17th Street N.W. (Alberta Health Services)

The centre will be built with healing gardens, recreational space and natural light, along with comfy lounges to create a "home-like" feel, AHS said.

The centre will be built on vacant AHS land next to another youth service facility. It will be close to the children's hospital and the University of Calgary, which will help facilitate future research efforts.

The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, which is trying to raise $50 million for the centre, says families want options that are less-institutional to improve the chances that young people will willingly accept care and specialized services.

Mental health issues, as a whole, make up the single largest health problem facing young people, and if treated early, the lifelong impact can be reduced, the organization says.

Alberta Children's Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre and South Health Campus will continue to provide overnight inpatient mental health beds for children and young people. Once patients are released, however, they will be able to turn to the new centre for support.


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