ROYAL ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL FOUNDATION AND THE MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION
Access 24/7 mental health and addiction services
While we at Alberta Blue Cross® continue to adapt to a new way of working as we navigate through COVID-19, so are our community partners. Mental health remains a primary focus in how we support community, and the need is evident. A recent poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found that 50 per cent of Canadians reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began with many feeling worried (44 per cent) and anxious (41 per cent).
In 2019, Alberta Blue Cross started our support of Access 24/7, the first single point of access for all adult and addictions mental health services in Edmonton. The concept was coined project #onedooryeg to symbolize the intention of providing an easy single point of access for mental health supports. The centre consolidated close to 100 community access points into one front door where patients and families have streamlined access to multiple services, making it easier for patients to navigate the system. Throughout the pandemic, the centre remains open to the public and has supported more than 2,200 patients.
Whenever Alberta Blue Cross engages in community partnerships, we consider how we can be of most value as partners. Alberta Health Services clinical director of Access 24/7, Pam Coulsen, shared that accessing mental health supports in a clinical setting can be traumatizing for Albertans due to the sterile environment. This was validated by a series of focus groups held by Alberta Health Services and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation to understand the lived experience of those seeking mental health support. Things like hard plastic chairs and sterile colours can add to the discomfort of Albertans already in distress. In consultation with Access 24/7 and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, Alberta Blue Cross was able to provide the centre with comfortable hospital-grade furniture to enhance the experience of Albertans seeking mental health support. The result is a compassionate environment conducive to healing. As the clinic continues to serve residents of Edmonton, we have begun to explore how to incorporate hopeful messaging throughout the clinic to further reduce the clinical feel of the waiting and counselling rooms.
Over the past year, our support has contributed to Albertans getting the help and support they need:
19,924 clients have received a combination of in-person assessments, crisis outreach and stabilization.
72,791 calls were received at the Access 24/7 Centre.
The Alberta Blue Cross vision, Blue For Life, has set us on a path to support Albertans through all ages and stages of life. For many, COVID-19 has been a stage of struggle. As we look at the intersection of Albertans and mental health services, our community partnerships are ensuring that Albertans are supported in accessing the services they need.