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South Edmonton mental health facility for children celebrates grand opening

CASA Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health's new Allendale facility celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 28, 2016.
CASA Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health's new Allendale facility celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 28, 2016. Les Knight/ Global News

A mental health centre in Allendale, that’s been working with Edmonton children and their families for more than a quarter of a century, held a grand opening celebration to show off its new facility Wednesday.

“This building was absolutely needed,” Nadine Samycia, executive director of CASA Foundation, said. “Our old facility was 62 years old.”

According to Samycia, CASA Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health started 25 years ago by parents who recognized the need for more mental health services for children and families in Alberta, a need she said is “growing and growing.”

The organization currently has four facilities in Edmonton, but Samycia said the 40,000 square foot new Allendale location is unique.

“This is a trauma-informed facility. Everything that is in this building was built with a purpose to be able to treat a child and a family for their mental illness.

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For example, Samycia said corners in hallways were rounded to avoid giving off a “startling effect” and the building has all kinds of “sensory features” including a bubble wall and special lighting panels that serve therapeutic purposes. She also said much attention was paid to how lighting would be achieved in the building.

“The lighting in the building is light, cheery and welcoming,” she said. “Our families will be seen in a mental health therapist’s office which would have an exterior window because natural light is very important in the healing process.”

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Samycia said the demand for services is great as the facility anticipates seeing over 4,000 families a year and booking about 200 appointments per day.

The $24-million facility received $17 million in funding from the province while CASA continues its capital campaign to raise the other $7 million for the building. According to Samycia, the organization is currently $1.2 million away from its goal.

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WATCH: CASA Foundation hosts a Venetian-themed carnival in support of a new facility

CASA Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health describes itself as a treatment, teaching and research facility and is affiliated with the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services.

It is staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, child care counsellors, teachers and administrative support workers.