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Specialized youth clinic in downtown Edmonton will offer addiction, mental health services

Access OM will be located on the first floor of the Bill Rees YMCA downtown Edmonton.
Access OM will be located on the first floor of the Bill Rees YMCA downtown Edmonton. Global News

A new program in Edmonton aimed to provide support and improved access to mental health and addiction services for young people opened its doors Thursday.

Known as Access Open Minds (Access OM), the clinic will be located on the first floor of the Bill Rees YMCA downtown, and is specialized for youth ages 11 to 25.

READ MORE: Edmonton-area support group helping parents dealing with drug-addicted children 

Katherine Hay, who works with Alberta Health Services, said providing a welcoming space for youth to get connected to mental health and addiction services is invaluable.

READ MORE: Edmonton-area mom demands better mental health care after teen daughter’s suicide 

“If we identify people early and their experience of addiction and mental health issues, and we provide effective treatment with that early identification and early intervention, the outcomes are much better in the long-term,” she said.

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“The chance of experiencing secondary types of disability or marginalization or homelessness, all of those things we think will be impacted by identifying and welcoming people into services and providing services earlier in their trajectory.”

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Edmonton is the 12th community in Canada — and first in Alberta — to offer an Access OM clinic. It will be staffed by three psychiatrists and two clinicians with a background in social work.

WATCH: Auditor General says AHS failing people with mental illness 

David Kelly, whose son has experienced mental illness, understands just how crucial these services are for young people.

“These programs are very important for these kids and young adults to have access to and be able to get some help,” he said.

“Statistically, you read it’s typically young adults that this manifests itself in, these kinds of episodes and illnesses, and they need to have somebody to help them out.”