New mental health centre gives Calgary families hope

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New mental health centre gives Calgary families hope
WATCH: A desperately needed initiative years in the making has been unveiled. Alberta Health Services announced a new, multi-dimensional centre to help youth struggling with mental health. As Jill Croteau reports, it will serve as a lifeline to families in need – May 25, 2018

“I know way too many teens who have tried to take their own life and know many who wanted to. In fact, I am one of them.”

It was a powerful opening statement from a young woman struggling with depression and anxiety. Nineteen-year-old Julia Caddy shared her personal battle with mental illness.

It was her intention to show support for a place she wishes existed when she needed it most. Alberta Health Services announced a new multi-million centre for child and adolescent mental health on Friday.

“To all families facing mental illness, I promise you there is light,” Julia said. “I found my light again and the hope is this centre can bring that light back to each and every young person that finds themselves in darkness.”

READ MORE: Mental Health Week blog: I need help and no one is listening to me

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Most families in crisis wind up in emergency rooms, but that will soon change. Construction on the new centre begins in the fall of 2019 on a vacant lot in the community of Houndsfield Heights in N.W., in Calgary.

Julia’s parents, Ray and Jane Caddy, know firsthand the experience of navigating a health care system that wasn’t equipped enough to help them manage.

“People just don’t understand. Because she’s not in a wheelchair, she doesn’t have a cast, she doesn’t have an IV, so how can she be hurting?” Ray said.

READ MORE: Edmonton school recognized for placing emphasis on mental health

“It’s such a struggle not knowing who to contact and everywhere you turn there’s a wait list or you’re not bad enough and that is so frustrating when you just want to help your child,” Jane said.

“I’m able to look back now and see how much I needed help. This centre is the chance for people to get that help,” Julia said.

The new centre will have a mental health walk-in service, intensive outpatient therapy and a day hospital program. Construction is expected to take about two years.

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