Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions, says, every Albertan deserves an opportunity to improve their mental health. (Advocate file photo)

Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions, says, every Albertan deserves an opportunity to improve their mental health. (Advocate file photo)

Alberta supports expansion of mental health services in rural areas

The provincial government is supporting rural Albertans through the expansion of mental health services.

On Thursday, the government, in partnership with Counselling Alberta, announced it plans to ensure that every Albertan has access to the support they need to improve their mental health.

“Every Albertan deserves an opportunity to improve their mental health and pursue recovery,” said Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions.

“Not everyone needs the support of a counsellor to improve their mental health but for many Albertans it can be a tremendous asset in their pursuit of wellness.

“We have heard from many rural communities that we need to do things better and we need to provide more access to affordable counselling options. This is what we’re doing in partnership with Counselling Alberta.”

Alberta’s government is providing Counselling Alberta with $6.75 million over two years to expand access to affordable and accessible mental health supports in Alberta.

Counselling Alberta is a new division of the Calgary Counselling Centre that is focused on providing support to Albertans in rural communities.

“Counselling Alberta will ensure that all Albertans have access to high-quality affordable and accessible counselling services no matter where they live,” said Robbie Babins-Wagner, Calgary Counselling Centre CEO.

“We already provide high-quality services to thousands of Albertans and we look forward to serving every Albertan who requires more support to improve their mental health.”

Provincial funding will help the centre expand their virtual services throughout Alberta, including in rural areas. In addition, Counselling Alberta will work with key partners in other urban communities to expand in-person affordable counselling services. The centre will provide coordination, intake, clinical oversight, outcomes measurement and make services affordable for Albertans.

Lori Sigurdson, NDP mental heath and addictions critic, said ensuring Albertans have access to mental health support is vital, but this funding is not enough to help the entire province.

“Much more must be done,” Sigurdson said.

“Organizations, such as the Calgary Counselling Centre, do amazing work but they are fighting an uphill battle due to the UCP’s cuts to critical social and mental health programs, including affordable housing, income support, and mental health professionals in schools.”



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