August 13, 2014 4:59 pm

Albertans gripe about wait times for mental health treatment

CALGARY- While the sudden death of beloved actor Robin Williams has renewed calls for those battling mental illness to reach out for help, those affected say it’s not always easy.

Some Albertans say getting the help they need is difficult, as wait times for treatment can be lengthy.

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One of them is Frank, a Calgary father of three who is battling alcoholism and depression. In February, he tried to take his own life then checked himself into a hospital.

After being discharged, he was told there were three month waits for psychological help and rehab.

“Every agency is busy,” he complains. “I don’t need help 90 days from now, I need help now.

“I needed help yesterday, and I’m still on hold.”

Another man named Keith shared his story with Global News. The Okotoks resident has to drive all the way to Medicine Hat to get help from a psychiatrist to treat his bipolar disorder.

“There’s not a lot of organization, there’s not a lot of help out there,” he says. “You have to really, really fight for it.”

In Calgary, the most recent numbers show median wait times for community treatment were between two and three weeks- the highest in the province.

Alberta spends $650 million per year on mental health treatment.

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