Improving Alberta’s addictions and mental health system

Steps are being taken to improve Alberta’s current addictions and mental health system.

Steps are being taken to improve Alberta’s current addictions and mental health system.

The provincial government launched a review of the existing policy last month. Premier Rachel Notley stated that the current mental health system did not measure up and the government intends to act on the matter.

The mental health review is being co-chaired by Dr. David Swann, Alberta Liberal Party leader, and Danielle Larivee, Lesser Slave Lake MLA, both who have health care backgrounds. The committee has now launched an online questionnaire, allowing Albertans the opportunity to provide their input on the important service.

“We need to hear from all Albertans about mental health and addiction for individuals and families,” said Larivee. “Everyone, regardless of who they are, or where they live, needs to feel respected and cared for and be able to receive the support they need. This review will help us achieve that.”

Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player and activist for preventing sexual abuse, recently met with the committee to share his views on improving current policy.

“As someone who has been an advocate for children who suffer from bullying, abuse and harassment, I am pleased to provide my input on how to strengthen mental health and addictions support in Alberta,” he said. “It is important that no vulnerable person be left without the mental health supports they need, and I encourage all Albertans to take part in this review.”

Since the review began on Sept. 1st, the committee has received numerous contributions from individuals and stakeholder organizations, including 1,500 completed online questionnaires, 22 written submissions from various organizations, 21 one-on-one presentations, six full-day stakeholder engagement sessions, with 175 participants bringing a diverse range of perspectives and three meetings in First Nation communities with over 90 participants.

This review of a portion of our health care system that has been in neglect for so long is much needed. Many Albertans struggle in silence with mental illness and a review of the current policy should be, whether how seemingly small, a positive step forward.

The online Mental Health Review questionnaire is open to the public until Friday, Oct. 23rd. It can be viewed at http://www.health.alberta.ca/initiatives/Mental-Health-Review.html.

The report and recommendations will be presented to the provincial government by the end of December.

 

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