Alberta Government, Counselling Alberta partner to Expand Mental Health Services in Rural Areas

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    he Alberta government has partnered with Counselling Alberta to expand the horizon of mental health services in rural areas. The provincial government has pledged to provide $6.75 million to Counselling Alberta over two years to make mental health support accessible and affordable across Alberta, including the far-flung regions. 

    A news release by states that the partnership was announced on Thursday, June 9, which is considered a step in the direction of ensuring that every Albertan gets to reach out easily for support to improve their mental health. 

    Counselling Alberta will provide virtual mental health counselling services all over the province of Alberta with immediate effect. Also, starting from this summer, the organization plans to rope in local partners province-wide to offer affordable in-person mental health counselling options.

    Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said at a press conference that every Albertan deserves an opportunity to improve their mental health.

    Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions said during a press conference, “Every Albertan deserves an opportunity to improve their mental health and pursue recovery.” “Not everyone needs the support of a counsellor to improve their mental health but for many Albertans, it can be a tremendous asset in their pursuit of wellness,” he added.  

    Ellis further emphasized that the government had heard from many rural communities that they need to do things better and provide more access to affordable counselling options. “This is what the aim is by partnering with Counselling Alberta,” said he.  The Calgary Counselling Centre has dedicated its new unit - Counselling Alberta - to extend more support to communities in rural areas of Alberta. 

    “Counselling Alberta will ensure that all Albertans have access to high-quality affordable and accessible counselling services no matter where they live,” said Robbie Babins-Wagner, Calgary Counselling Centre CEO. “We already provide high-quality services to thousands of Albertans and we look forward to serving every Albertan who requires more support to improve their mental health,” added Wagner.

    The government funds will help Counselling Alberta in ramping up its operations in the rural areas and in offering counselling virtually. Meanwhile, the centre will continue working with other key organizations in various urban communities to augment in-person affordable counselling services. The services offered by the centre include intake, coordination, outcomes measurement, and clinical oversight, at affordable rates for Albertans. 

    The Alberta government has been focusing on enhancing the resources for mental health and wellness for Albertans. The efforts included providing more than $53 million early in the pandemic to upend services and supports during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, stepping up services at youth mental health hubs, organizing the 211 Alberta process, and other initiatives. Alberta’s government is funding another project - HealthIM in Alberta. It’s a digital tool designed to help those in need of support during mental health crisis as they can reach law enforcement faster.  

    As per official records, Alberta’s annual spending is over $1 billion on addiction and mental health programs, services, and supports. The amount comprises Budget 2022’s allocation of $70 million toward building a recovery-oriented system of mental health and addiction care and making more essential supports and services accessible to common people.

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