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Red Deer and area bereavement support group Healing Hearts holding monthly meetings

Support for those grieving someone who has died from substance-related harms
The Red Deer and area chapter of Moms Stop The Harm have started a bereavement support group called Healing Hearts. (Contributed)

Central Albertans who have lost loved ones to overdose or substance-related harms can now attend a bereavement support group that recognizes their complex loss.

Healing Hearts for Red Deer and area, a peer-led support group organized by the local Moms Stop The Harm group, held its first support group meeting in February with monthly meetings planned.

Wendy Little, Moms Stop The Harm member, said those grieving loved ones who have died from substance-related harms can feel isolated. Others don’t understand the depth of struggles that they faced even before their loved one has died.

“Losing that person to substance-related harm often brings a lot of complex layers of grief with it,” Little said.

“Because there’s still a lot of judgement around substance use disorder and drugs, people feel stigmatized when they want to talk about their trauma. There’s a lot of support for a mom who loses her child to cancer. People rally all around her,” Little said.

And Healing Hearts is a place where people can now talk about the complicated feelings and issues related to losing someone to substances, she said.

“We all left our first meeting feeling hope and just a sense of relief that we’ve got a safe space to be together and support one another and build the connections that will help us all in our recovery.”

To register to attend Healing Hearts email: Information is also available at


Remembrance tree touches the hearts of Central Albertans

On Monday the province announced $92 million will be spent over three years to provide mental health support for children and youth across Alberta in partnership with CASA Mental Health.

The funding, which is part of the Budget 2023, would include capital and operating funding for two new inpatient CASA House sites in Fort McMurray and Calgary, expanding youth day treatment programs provincially, and the rollout of new mental health classrooms across Alberta.

Little said recognizing that more mental health funding is needed for youth is important, but there should be a range of supports when it comes to addiction and they should also include specialized care at doctor’s offices, harm reduction and a safe drug supply.

“We have to be ready to meet people where they’re at in their journey and sometimes that might be safe drugs so that they can live to tomorrow to choose recovery. My son, he’ll never get to see recovery because he died first from toxic supply,” Little said.


Alberta government proposes $92M in funding for youth mental health

If elected, the NDP plan to develop Family Health Teams so more Albertans can access a family doctor and other health-care workers, including mental health professionals.

“Primary care providers should have the tools, and support necessary to screen for mental health illnesses and provide quality care. Our Family Health Teams plan will do that,” said Lori Sigurdson, Alberta NDP mental health and addictions critic, in a statement.

The NDP plan to hire 1,500 additional non-physician team members will allow clinics and primary care networks to significantly expand the mental health services they provide.

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