Many mental health services available ahead of the holiday season

Prevention services for individuals, families, schools, community outlets and workplace are available

  • Nov. 24, 2016 8:00 p.m.

BY KALISHA MENDONSA

Lacombe Express

Lacombe Mental Health houses the addictions services and has recently added a nearly full-time position to help address the needs of the growing community.

As winter comes around, so does the stress of finances for holiday spending, the need to keep warm and the unfortunate reality of seasonal depression for some. All of these factors can negatively impact a person’s mentality, mood and quality of life.

For those who struggle with addictions or mental health concerns, it may be the right time of the year to take note of the many services available throughout the areas of Lacombe and Ponoka.

“In these communities we have Community Addiction and Mental Health Clinics and the services are basically the same in both,” explained Alana Cissell, program manager for Community Addiction and Mental Health Services, a division of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“We provide addiction services for alcohol, substance abuse, gambling and tobacco reduction. We have children’s mental health, adult mental health and a seniors outreach mental health program. As well, there is always the mental health helpline and HealthLink options available for after-hours services.”

The mental health helpline phone number is 1-877-303-2642, toll free within Alberta. This number provides a confidential, anonymous service with crisis intervention available. As well, they can provide information on mental health services and programs, and provide referrals to other agencies if needed.

HealthLink Alberta has an even easier number to remember in a crisis: 811. HealthLink can provide information on mental health crisis intervention, addictions services and can help in the event where a person is not sure if they ought to call 911 or head straight to a hospital.

The Addictions Helpline can be reached 24/7, same as the mental health line and HealthLink, at 1-866-332-2322.

These numbers can be helpful to remember all year round.

“Our programs and services are always being evaluated to see how we can provide the best service, and how the needs in the community are changing. It depends what the community is looking for and we tailor our response,” Cissell said.

To this end, Lacombe’s Community Addiction Services have added an increase in personnel hours with an addictions counsellor who is based in the City, available to address the needs of the growing community.

“All of our services are well-utilized but we are always looking at what more we can do to meet the needs of the community,” Cissell said.

“As one could imagine in a city the size of Lacombe, we didn’t have enough resources at a half-time position. By increasing the resources available, that allows our counsellor to provide services in schools and other areas of the community.”

Cissell said the addictions counsellor simply did not have enough time to meet the needs of a city of 12,000 people. AHS recognized this and has addressed the issue by bumping up the available hours of the local addictions counsellor.

“She deals with addictions in terms of tobacco, alcohol or substance abuse, as well as works on prevention activities and information for schools and attend community inter-agency meetings. During National Addiction Awareness Week, she would have also been involved in presentations in the community,” Cissell explained.

As well, Cissell said the counsellor does provide one-on-one personalized counselling for those struggling with addictions.

“Having facilities in various communities allows people to access help in their own community. It allows schools to have access to information in terms of prevention and promotion to target young people before they have larger issues,” Cissell said.

The Lacombe Mental Health Centre houses Addictions Services. All services are strictly confidential and free. They provide prevention services for individuals, families, schools, community outlets and workplaces.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com