Navigating our complex health system can be a challenge for patients and families. Families don’t always know where to go for help, and there are often long wait times to get the necessary care.
To help close some of the gaps that exist when it comes to accessing vital child and adolescent mental health care, we’ve launched a five-year, $6.5 million fundraising campaign to bring integrated, clinical mental health services to the Stollery Emergency.
Now in the fourth year of the campaign, our donors are playing a vital role in making sure kids from backyards across Alberta have access to both physical and mental health care at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. To date, this campaign has raised $2,181,503 in support of kids’ mental health care and has allowed the Stollery to expand its mental health team to include two registered nurses on each shift and licensed practical nurses. Social workers and child psychiatrists are also part of the team supporting inpatient and outpatient calls with kids and families. These newly developed roles allow caregivers to assess the needs of the child, to stabilize their condition and address health concerns on their timelines and at their convenience.
The Stollery Children’s Hospital also hired a clinical nurse educator to help foster a holistic approach to treatment. This role provides orientation, education and support, putting mental health in the minds of all Stollery caregivers.
Donor dollars have also allowed the Stollery to expand its outpatient psychiatry clinic. This has increased the capacity for outpatient and phone consultations, which many Stollery families rely on while juggling life and work responsibilities, and kids can have the comfort of receiving mental health support in their community instead of a hospital setting. For the Stollery, this means fewer emergency room visits for recurring issues and more capacity for immediate emergencies.
Diverting the number of drop-in mental health visits is crucial. In 2022, 2,610 kids came to the Stollery with addiction and mental health concerns — that’s 42% more than the Hospital saw in 2020. More than 260 of those visits were redirected from emergency triage to scheduled appointments.
Also in 2022, the 24/7 children’s mental health crisis line received 3,958 calls to the Stollery emergency care team. And the Stollery’s 24/7 mental health walk-in clinic, which is accessible through the Stollery’s Emergency triage, assessed 263 patients.