In this regional news piece, Dr. Blair Ritchie (Alberta and NWT representative) describes a mental health initiative from rural Alberta:
In this update I wanted to let the CACAP/ACPEA readership know about two inspiring and important initiative from rural Alberta. Bonnyville is a town with a population of less than 7000 people on the Eastern of edge of the province.
The Child & Adolescent Mental Health Collaborative started to operate in 2016. This is a collaboration between the local primary care network (PCN), physician group, Alberta Health Services (AHS), school board, the town and municipal district (MD) of Bonnyville. A local Nurse Practitioner (NP), Chantal Vallee, had a vision and was the champion of this collaborative. Now under the guidance of the PCN, in collaboration with the community stakeholders, the program continues to operate locally.
With an AHS grant and town/MD funding, a fulltime Mental Health Navigator was hired to establish and coordinate the program. Primary care clinicians, Chantal Vallee and Drs. Van Deventer, Barnard, Cardeano, J. Cadrin, A. Cadrin, and Yang all took further training in pediatric mental health assessment and treatment to help provide support to the children and youth of their community. In 2022 the program recruited a Social Worker to assist with additional resources for youth and families.
A weekly Child & Adolescent Mental Health Clinic has been established where physician/NP, mental health therapists, school counsellors and the patient navigator sit at the same table to discuss and coordinate the treatment plan for the youth.
Referrals can be made for any young person aged 6 to 17 years of age who has a designated Patient Medical Home at the Bonnyville Medical Clinic. Referrals are accepted by the Mental Health Navigator, from parents, teachers, therapists, doctors or anyone who thinks a young person needs help with their mental health.
Another goal of the program is to improve the support of and resources for families in the Bonnyville area.
Key members of The Child & Adolescent Mental Health Collaborative have also been involved in thedevelopment of The Hive Youth Hub. The program has a long list of collaborators including substantial input from the 23 member Youth Advisory Committee. This group strives to provide integrated health and social services in a youth-friendly environment. This is a no refusal, no referral service that supports 14-21 year old youth and emerging adults. A social space is provided as well as individual and group support for all areas of health. Six dimensions of Wellness are used to guide activity and resource planning (emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual) and drop in activities can be found on the schedule that fit under these dimensions. To learn more see thehivelakeland.ca.