Calgary City Council works towards strategy for mental health and addiction

Calgary City Hall. Global News

Calgary City Council held a strategic session on Wednesday to discuss the next steps towards creating a mental health and addictions strategy.

Earlier this year, council approved spending $25 million over five years to find ways of dealing with the growing problem of mental health, addiction and social disorder.

READ MORE: Calgary councillors to propose city-wide mental health, social disorder strategy

There has been some criticism that the city is stepping into the responsibility of other levels of government, something that upsets Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

“It’s not at all a provincial issue, it’s a human issue,” he said. “It’s an issue that faces each and every one of us.

“I lose three people a week, I lose innumerable billions of dollars in economic impact because people can’t go to work or can’t go to school.”

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On Wednesday, councillors heard from a number of community agencies as well as Alberta Health Services and Calgary police on steps they are taking to address concerns around mental health and addictions and how partnerships can be created.

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Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of mental health issues.

Janet Chafe is the executive director of addictions and mental health for Alberta Health Services’ Calgary zone.

“I think the city can play a real leadership role in bringing multiple systems together, and helping us to look at what is that system we need to create across Calgary that is going to help provide the care that’s needed to people in Calgary who require it,” she said.

Councillor Jyoti Gondek said it’s important that solutions or strategies don’t get bogged down in city hall bureaucracy, “We create ridiculously cumbersome, policy-laden processes that don’t allow us to get outcomes that we need.”

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Council is asking administration to come up with some strategic actions, targets and measures and to report back to a city hall meeting in the latter part of next year. The hope is to develop a strategy similar to what’s been done with the 10-year plans to end homelessness and poverty in Calgary.

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