By Erika Mathieu
Westwind Weekly News
The government of Alberta is pursuing new partnerships with community organizations to better serve senior needs, mental health, and addiction supports. A key focus of these partnerships is to facilitate better access to resources, “before acute intervention is necessary.”
The Province has committed $6.3 million to support organizations in their ability to deliver accessible addictions and mental health initiatives to older adults in Alberta.
According to the Province, the newly announced funding will help seniors and their caregivers navigate and access community support, in addition to training caregivers on how to administer mental health first aid in times of crisis.
Issues which have a negative impact on mental health, such as isolation, have been compounded for many seniors during the pandemic, as social distancing, clinic closures, and financial stressors have increased.
“From isolation to a loss of community, the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on older persons. As we return to normal life, we must continue to address the lasting impacts on mental health and wellness. This funding will help do just that,” wrote the Minister of Seniors and Housing, Josephine Pon.
While raising awareness of the unique challenges and barriers seniors face when accessing mental health and addictions support, the financial commitment is important because it will provide resources to four organizations in the province, including Calgary and Area’s United Way, the Imagine Institute for Learning to support the delivery of Mental Health First Aid, the carya Society of Calgary, and the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council
“When we think of prescriptions, we often think of medications. This new initiative will see ‘social prescriptions’ to community mental health or addiction supports that could benefit an older adult,” said Paula Telfer, chief executive officer of carya Society of Calgary.
Albertans, including seniors and caregivers, can find additional information by calling or texting 211 Alberta, or by visiting alberta.ca/mentalhealth to find resources in their region.