New direction for addiction and mental health system
Faster access and better integrated services for Albertans
Edmonton… A comprehensive new Alberta government strategy will help reduce addiction and mental illness in the province. Creating Connections: Alberta’s Addiction and Mental Health Strategy will create a more seamless system to ensure the best quality assessment, treatment and support services are available to Albertans where and when they need them.
“Albertans need faster and better access to addiction and mental health services,” said Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Health and Wellness. “This new strategy will build on a solid foundation to create an even stronger addiction and mental health system. Better coordination and integration of services will be its cornerstone. Our 5-Year Health Action Plan is focused on improving access and this new strategy is an integral piece of that plan.”
“Alberta’s Addiction and Mental Health Strategy is absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Michel Perron, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. “This strategy represents new ways of thinking and working together to deliver practical and tangible results. It is a new way for Alberta to reduce the impacts and harms associated with substance abuse.”
The strategy has 5 key directions:
- build healthy and resilient communities by focusing on health promotion and illness prevention and improving access to primary health care;
- foster the development of healthy children, youth and families by improving access to a full continuum of services;
- enhance community-based services, capacity and supports, including addressing housing and rural capacity, to provide Albertans quality care where and when they need it;
- address complex needs so that Albertans requiring specialized or coordinated care have access to a full range of appropriate addiction and mental health services and supports; and,
- enhance assurance in the system by developing appropriate oversight policies, structures and initiatives so Albertans can be confident in service quality and client safety.
“This strategy sets the direction for addiction and mental health for the next five years. It builds on work already underway to strengthen our service delivery system and to increase emphasis on mental health promotion and illness prevention,” said Dr. Chris Eagle, AHS CEO and President. “A key strength of the strategy is a collective commitment to work together across government ministries, AHS and community groups to improve access to services and build strong community supports around people.”
Some programs and services supporting the strategy are already underway throughout the province. They include adult depression program pilots in primary care networks, Aboriginal youth suicide prevention programs, discharge planning for the homeless, inner city and rural police crisis teams, telehealth psychiatric services, access standards for children’s mental health services, and many alcohol and drug reduction programs in schools, communities and workplaces.
“Today, there’s a great window of opportunity to transform the system of mental healthcare right across Canada,” said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. “For the first time, governments and territories are putting mental health at the top of their agendas, and mental health issues are being discussed openly in our schools, offices, and homes. There’s also a real eagerness to share knowledge and to create caring societies where people living with mental illness have the opportunity to recover and lead fulfilling lives. The Commission commends the Alberta government for stepping up to the plate and addressing mental illness and addiction full-on.”
The development of the strategy was co-led by Alberta Health and Wellness and Alberta Health Services. It involved 16 Government of Alberta ministries because there was a recognition that many people with addiction and mental health issues are served by many government departments.
The cross-ministry initiative engaged key stakeholders in the addiction and mental health fields in Alberta, including health care professionals, family and consumer representatives, people with lived experiences in addiction and/or mental illness, and a panel of addiction and mental health experts from across Canada.
The strategy is accompanied by the Alberta Addiction and Mental Health 2011-2016 Action Plan that lays out the roles, actions, expected results and performance measures for all ministries, sectors and community-based organizations involved. Supporting Albertans with addiction and mental health issues is an important part of Alberta’s 5-Year Health Action Plan.
To view the Strategy and Action Plan visit: http://www.health.alberta.ca/