One-of-a-kind, one-stop shop for men­tal health

Pa­tients hope clinic at the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal will im­prove ac­cess to sup­port

StarMetro Edmonton - - EDMONTON - NADINE YOUSIF NADINE YOUSIF/STARMETRO ED­MON­TON

A new clinic in Ed­mon­ton could be the next step in fix­ing what pa­tients say is a frag­mented men­tal-health-care sys­tem in the city.

Ac­cess 24/7, a men­tal health clinic that will op­er­ate out of the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal in the heart of Ed­mon­ton, was an­nounced Thurs­day by Al­berta Health Ser­vices and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. It will act as a one-stop shop that con­sol­i­dates ex­ist­ing men­tal-health ser­vices in the city, while of­fer­ing re­fer­rals, as­sess­ment, and cri­sis out­reach, among other ser­vices.

The clinic is based on feed­back re­ceived by Al­berta Health Ser­vices from pa­tients, and is the first of its kind in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing Com­mu­nity ac­tivist Blake Loates hopes the Ac­cess 24/7 clinic at Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal will make men­tal-health ser­vices more pa­tient-friendly.

to An­drew Ot­way, pres­i­dent of the Royal Alexan­dra Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion. Its main fo­cus is to stream­line ac­cess to men­tal-health ser­vices.

“Not ev­ery­body is work­ing to­gether,” said Blake Loates, who has been nav­i­gat­ing

men­tal-health sup­port ser­vices in Ed­mon­ton for the last 23 years. She said the sys­tem is “frac­tured,” and can of­ten be dis­or­ga­nized.

A large num­ber of Ed­mon­to­ni­ans who strug­gle with men­tal health is­sues, how­ever,

come to hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ments when faced with a men­tal-health cri­sis, es­pe­cially af­ter hours.

“Of­ten it’s not the best place to go,” Ot­way said.

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