Seventy-four per cent of Albertans feel their mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent government survey suggests. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Gov’t of Alberta providing $53 million to mental health, addictions services

The Alberta government is putting $53 million into funding for mental health and addictions services to help people cope with COVID-19.

Premier Jason Kenney said a recent government survey indicated 74 per cent of Albertans feel their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.

“Many people are feeling nervous, scared or lonely, and almost half of those surveyed are worried about their future,” Kenney said.

“Alberta is there for you. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, scared or lonely, if you feel you can’t cope or take the pressure any longer, if you’re turning too often to alcohol or drugs, please know this: help is available.”

That same government survey also suggests 34 per cent of Albertans feel “depressed or hopeless” some days, said Kenney.

The government’s plan will provide $21 million to the enhancement of phone and online support access, $2.6 million to the expansion of individual and group treatment, $4.2 million to the expansion of addiction and mental health treatment available through primary care networks, and $25 million to a new grant program to enhance community mental health and addiction recovery.

This funding is in addition to the $140 million previously promised by the government, in support of mental health services and addictions programs.

Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addiction, said it’s important for all Albertans to have access to support.

“These resources will help address the needs of children, youth and adults, and we will continue to work with our partners across the mental health and addiction sector to find innovative ways to support Albertans in need, both now and after the pandemic is behind us,” said Luan.

There are 126 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, the government announced during its daily update on Wednesday. This brings the provincial total to 1,996.

No new deaths were reported, so the total remains at 48.

Due to a technical issue with the COVID-19 reporting application, only preliminary data for provincial case numbers and completed tests was available at the time of the update.

“Late yesterday, we experienced a data centre outage at the ministry that has shut down our data feed from the provincial lab,” said Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

“Teams have been working through the night to restore services, however, we have not been able to restart that data feed.”

Updated case information, including zone cases and recovered cases, will be provided as part of Thursday’s update.

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