It is estimated that half the population of Canada will struggle with their mental health by the time they turn forty, with 20 per cent of the population struggling every year.
This statistic also affects the city of Airdrie and shines a light on the resources available for residents struggling with their mental wellness.
One local resident was struggling and found themselves admitted to Airdrie's urgent care clinic; upon being admitted, they were instead transferred out of the city to the Peter Lougheed Center for treatment.
“I got transported to Calgary, where I spent a day under observation and was sent home with sheets of numbers to call and book resources,” said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
Upon release, they expected to hear from the hospital again but never did.
“There was no follow-up, and when I called these numbers, I was greeted by automated messages and not even a human voice.”
The reason residents are finding themselves being sent out of the city comes down to the facilities available being overloaded, resulting in massive wait times for those seeking help.
“I met with Community Links eight weeks ago to access resources; after hearing nothing for a week, I called to follow up, and I was promptly told we’ll call you, and I'm still waiting,” said another anonymous resident.
Community links are currently experiencing an influx of people seeking mental health resources.
“Is there a waiting list? Absolutely, Airdrie is limited in their capabilities because of the number of people coming in for services,” said Lou Henry, manager of counselling services at Community Links.
The question then becomes what can be done to fix this in our city?
"If we had a few more psychiatrists in the city in Airdrie, or maybe even Calgary worst case?” said Henry who also mentioned he has seen some great ideas come out of other provinces.
“When I was in Ontario, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) had psychiatrists that would telemedicine with mental health facilities, so clients would go to their doctor, request telemedicine with CMHA, and get connected with a psychiatrist, the wait time was three to four weeks not months I'm shocked they don't have that here,”
Given the current system implemented in the city and across most of Alberta, both residents and experts anticipate that persisting with a restricted number of practitioners handling requests will result in prolonged wait times.
A public input session will take place in Airdrie on February 2, called “Shape the Way,” which will allow residents to provide their input on how they think the healthcare system can be improved for the future, you have to register to attend and can do that here.
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