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Red Deer hospital has new Adolescent Crisis Response Team

Youth psychiatric beds increased to 12 from eight
An Adolescent Crisis Response Team is now available at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (Advocate file photo)

An Adolescent Crisis Response Team is now available in Red Deer for faster and better treatment for mental issues.

Launched earlier in June at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, the team is made up of mental health aides who support youth experiencing a mental health crisis when they visit the local emergency department.

Team members stay with youth during their visit, and provide temporary support through education, connection, coping skills and reassurance until other resources are in place to help.

Other improvements for youth include:

• Increasing the number of youth psychiatric beds at the hospital from eight to 12.

• Establishing a mental health navigator position to give families a single point of contact to access the appropriate mix and level of services for their child. This position will be assigned to more complex cases.

• Adding single-session, walk-in mental health counselling sessions two evenings a week at the 49th Street Addiction & Mental Health outpatient clinic. This service helps young patients receive an appropriate level of care, and puts safety plans or Acute at Home supports in place, rather than have individuals present to emergency.

The Acute at Home program, which is in the final phases of recruiting staff, will allow youth to receive care in their home virtually, or in-person in a clinic setting.

The health care team with Acute at Home includes a mental health therapist, registered psychiatric nurse, social worker, crisis response therapist and mental health aides who will respond to referrals within 24 hours and offer appointments seven days a week, including evenings and weekends.

The team will connect frequently with patient and family, and communicate between family, available services and community partners, such as schools. The program aims to provide support for 50 families at a time for up to four weeks per family.

“We’ve reviewed all of our Children’s Addiction & Mental Health services in Red Deer and made changes to how we can best serve our clients, empower families and provide care in the right space,” said Amy Cote, director of Central zone Addiction & Mental Health – Children, Youth and Families.

“This has the potential to strengthen family networks, and also ease pressures on the emergency department and inpatient facilities,” said Cote in a statement.

MLA for Red Deer North Adriana LaGrange said mental health concerns are on the rise among children and youth, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, and she was proud of the hard work of Alberta Health Services to evaluate and improve services.

“It’s important that we continue to review and improve the changing demands for addiction and mental health services in Alberta,” said MLA for Red Deer South Jason Stephan.

The changes to children’s mental health services were made by reallocating existing resources, and $236,000 in Alberta Health funding to support the COVID-19 response.

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About the Author: Red Deer Advocate Staff

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