New youth detox beds in Alberta cheered, but some want more action

Agencies that work with at-risk youth say three new detox beds are a great start to addressing the larger issues of mental health and addictions among young people.

Pledge by provincial government comes as it accepts all 32 recommendations of mental health services review

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says new youth detox beds are a priority for the government in wake of mental health services review. (CBC)

Agencies that work with at-risk youth say three new detox beds are a great start in addressing the larger issues of mental health and addictions among young people.

The pledge was made as the provincial government announced the findings of a review of mental health services in Alberta and said it would act to implement all 32 of the report's recommendations. 

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said it would take time to implement all 32 recommendations, but the youth detox beds were among six priority issues singled out by the the government. 

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman lays out the plans for implementing the actions by the mental health review. Liberal leader Dr. David Swann is also pleased by the attitude the government has toward mental health. 1:34

'Very much in support'

"It's a great thing to see that there are additional funds and this is being recognized as a need in the community in Calgary, we think it's a huge need and we are very much in support of it," said Allan Peters, a youth workers with Street Light, a mobile trailer that provides meals and a safe place for teens to hang out at night.

He says young people often come to Street Light before and after they've sought treatment.

Scratching the surface

Kate Hawksworth with the Alex Youth Health Centre says the beds are a great start, but really only scratch the surface.

"We've got a lot of young people that are really, really desperate to get into treatment, especially residential treatment, and the waitlists can be three to six months long just to get a bed. So again, we need the services everywhere, not just in detox, but in treatment."

Hoffman said implementation of the remaining 26 recommendations will have to happen over time given the province's tight fiscal situation.

"Some of these have very significant monetary requirements attached to them," she said. "Obviously I wish oil was at $100 a barrel and not hovering around $30."