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Our $5M gift for youth mental health hubs across Alberta

Pledge is largest donation in Mental Health Foundation history and will support integrated youth services across the province

The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation (SCHF) has pledged a historic $5-million gift to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), the largest single gift the MHF has ever received, to improve access to addiction and mental health care for youth in our province.

The SCHF’s investment of $5 million over five years will fund integrated youth service hubs in communities across Alberta to ensure youth aged 11-25 have access to co-ordinated, timely, equitable mental health, addictions and social services where they live. Services will focus on prevention and early intervention, and will help decrease stigma around addiction and mental health services that prevents many youth from seeking help.

“When young people struggle with mental health or addiction, ensuring they have access to the services and supports they need is a crucial part of helping them achieve their goals and live healthy lives in recovery.” said Jason Luan, Alberta’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Thanks to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation’s hard work to improve supports and services for mental health and addiction recovery in our province.”

The two foundations have partnered since 2015 to serve children and youth living with mental health concerns through passionate donor support. This gift is the latest demonstration of SCHF’s ongoing and long-term commitment to mental health in Alberta, having already invested millions in mental health initiatives that make a life-changing difference for children and families.

“We believe that physical and mental health are connected, and we know that children and youth have better health outcomes when they have easy access to timely services and treatment closer to home,” says Mike House, president and CEO of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Our $5-million investment and partnership with the Mental Health Foundation to create integrated youth hubs across our province is another example of how our proud donors are advancing mental health care to help kids and their families – right in their own backyard.”

Research shows that 70 per cent of mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence, affecting one in two Canadians by age 40. And half of those who develop chronic mental health disorders show symptoms by age 14.

Says 18-year-old patient advocate Gabby Bowie: “My entire experience as a youth was focused around my depression. It felt really good when my family and I finally accessed the right services to help me manage my mental health. Once I had the support of a team that got to know me and helped guide me to get better, everything felt brighter. I’m finally able to live my life, and I want other people to know that it gets better. It’s okay to need help, and I’m so thankful that the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation stepped forward to make accessing it easier for other families like mine.”

Integrated hubs in targeted communities provide a youth-friendly environment where youth can access resources such as primary care, addiction and mental health services, housing, social services, and peer and navigation support all under one roof. Of particular focus are the 50 per cent of youth who drop out of services at entry to adult services (18+).

SCHF funding will support youth on their mental health journey by increasing equitable access to services, especially for historically vulnerable youth populations such as LGBTQ2S+, homeless, and Indigenous youth. Integrated youth services increase access to services (particularly in rural and remote communities) and decrease stigma, which leads to increased help seeking and engagement of youth and families, improved health outcomes, and more successful transitions for young people as they move into the adult system.

“We’re so grateful to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation for understanding the urgent need for improved access to mental health services for youth, and for believing in our vision to provide it,” says Mark Korthuis, president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation. “We’re excited to work in tandem with the Stollery to ensure that no matter what level of mental health support youth need, they get timely access to help at a place in their community that welcomes and supports them. The integrated youth hubs we’re creating together through this historic $5-million gift will make a difference today for young people and their families.”

There are currently several hubs in various stages of operation in Alberta, including ACCESS Open Minds in Edmonton. Funding by SCHF paves the way for MHF’s goal of expanding integrated youth services into 12 communities by 2022.

To learn more, visit Kickstand Connect.

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About the Mental Health Foundation (mentalhealthfoundation.ca | @MentalHealthAB)
The Mental Health Foundation raises funds and mobilizes resources to improve outcomes within Alberta’s addiction and mental health system. Working toward a barrier-free, easy-to-navigate, and fully integrated system, we survey gaps across the mental health care spectrum and invest in programs and initiatives with the potential to ignite transformational change.

About the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation (stollerykids.com | @stollerykids)
The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation advances child and youth health care right in your own backyard by funding specialized care at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and in communities across Alberta: state-of-the-art equipment and facilities; sub-specialty education to train the brightest medical minds; leading-edge research to discover new treatments and cures; and specialized programs that improve family-centred care, child and youth addiction and mental health services, and patient and family outcomes. Together, we can give kids the best chance to live a long and healthy life.

Media contacts:
Sam Fitzner
Communications Lead
Mental Health Foundation
780.342.7926 | sam@mentalhealthfoundation.ca

Josie Hammond-Thrasher
Associate Director, Marketing & Communications, and Communications Lead for Mental Health
Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation
780.729.6770 | jthrasher@stollerykids.com