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Calgary announces pilot projects enhancing access to addiction and mental health services

People practice physical distancing in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 9, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. .
People practice physical distancing in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 9, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The City of Calgary announced Friday an investment of more than $700,000 for 15 pilot projects relating to accessing mental health and addiction services.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said these projects aim to help residents navigate the many services that already exist in the city.

“These are fast pilots,” he said. “Instead of analyzing them for years, we’re going to just try them.”

READ MORE: Kenney pledges $53M in mental health funding as Alberta sees no new COVID-19 deaths

The Change Can’t Wait! pilot projects will offer funding to 15 different mental health and addiction services and programs, including Calgary’s mobile health street team, anxiety workshops and the Calgary Alpha House Society’s shelter diversion program.

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“This will give us data and real-world examples to inform the great work already underway by our Community Action on Mental Health and Addictions Stewardship Group,” Nenshi said.

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Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the local economy, Karen Gosbee with the stewardship group, said the pilot projects were able to continue thanks to a continued focus on mental health and wellness from the city.

Nenshi updates city’s finances during COVID-19 pandemic, calls for provincial and federal support
Nenshi updates city’s finances during COVID-19 pandemic, calls for provincial and federal support

“We weren’t certain that these projects would be able to move forward in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

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“We asked those organizations that had submitted proposals if they would still be able to execute, given these challenges. The majority said yes.

“We have incredible systems of support and care available in our city and we’re so excited to advance this work during a time when we need it most.”

A full list of all the organizations receiving funding from the new pilot projects is available on the city’s website.