Getting the help you need, when you need it

The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta released their annual report on Monday.

The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta released their annual report on Monday.

The lengthy report included 11 recommendations to the provincial government on exactly how it can make improvements to its various systems and processes.

The delivery of mental health services to Albertans was one of the main areas that was examined by the Auditor General. The report revealed Alberta Health Services (AHS) has failed in executing its addictions and mental health strategy.

According to the Auditor General’s Office, mental illness affects one in five Albertans over their lifetime. The organization stated severe and persistent mental illness is a, “Chronic disease and should be treated as one.”

“For the most part, however, the delivery of frontline addiction and mental health services remains unintegrated and allows ongoing gaps in service continuity,” stated officials from the Auditor’s Office.

“In our opinion, based on the evidence we have from this and other recent audits of healthcare service delivery, AHS has both the mandate and capacity to coordinate the efforts of those entities that should be involved in integrating public mental health and addictions services.”

As you can imagine, these findings were alarming to the provincial government and the Official Opposition.

Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman accepted all the recommendations from the report and said those who suffer from addictions and mental illness experience a large amount of pain and hardship.

“Their friends and family members suffer as well,” she said. “We need to fully implement and measure the addictions and mental health strategy so people get the care and support they need.”

Hoffman indicated the government has asked MLAs David Swann and Danielle Larivee to complete a full review of Alberta’s addiction and mental health system.

This is a step in the right direction and partners well with AHS’s statement that they will also continue to review programs and improve care for those with addictions and mental health issues.

AHS President and CEO Vickie Kaminiski said the issues brought forward by the report were very important and will be taken seriously. She said they understand the importance of providing Albertans affected by mental illness and addictions with the care and services they require, when they need it.

AHS has also accepted the recommendations laid out, and will strive to improve care along with working with other organizations to provide community support.

If as a province we continue to miss the mark with providing adequate support and access for those who suffer from mental illness and addictions in our community, more and more gaps will arise. The answer doesn’t lie in reviews and reports. It lies in providing care and services to those in need when they need it.