CALGARY – Architectural renderings were unveiled today of a new centre for child and adolescent mental health, being built in partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF).
First announced in May, the centre will ensure timely access to appropriate mental health supports for thousands of young people each year, and will offer new and enhanced services, including specialized triage and the opportunity for immediate referrals to onsite programs. By offering community-based services, many under the same roof, clients and their families will receive care that can stabilize and manage escalating illness and ideally prevent hospitalization.
“Providing appropriate and effective care for a child or youth facing a mental health issue can set them on the path to a healthy future,” says Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. “Our government is committed to fighting for children and youth with mental health issues, as well as their families, so that they can get timely access to the services they need.”
The three-storey, 3,200-square-metre structure features a program area on each level, including walk-in services, intensive community treatment, and a day hospital. A day hospital is an outpatient facility where patients attend for assessment, treatment or rehabilitation during the day then return home, or to an alternate care facility at night.
“We are pleased to share the first images of the new stand-alone centre for child and adolescent mental health in Calgary,” says AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu. “The centre will help us further our goal of providing the best possible care to children and youth in our community who experience mental health issues.”
The new facility will be developed on vacant AHS land, adjacent to an existing Youth Services facility in the northwest Calgary community of Hounsfield Heights - Briar Hill. Construction is expected to start next fall and take two years to complete.
“We are very pleased with how plans for the new centre are taking shape,” says Saifa Koonar, President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Our generous community helped build the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the best facility possible for children with physical health issues. And now, together, we’re going to do the same thing for young people struggling with mental health issues.”
Input from the community, recommendations from youth advisors, and advice from consultations with other child and adolescent mental health centres across Canada, the U.S. and Australia have influenced the design of the building. To ensure the facility fits in well with the surrounding community, special design elements have been incorporated in the plans such as pitched roofs, tasteful landscaping and private outdoor seating areas.
An abundance of windows to bring in natural light, healing gardens and recreational spaces that open to the outdoors have also been incorporated into the design, bringing elements of nature into the centre. Welcome lounges have been created to be home-like, comfortable and private. In addition, based on observation of important features in other similar facilities, program enhancements – including a teaching kitchen and barista station – have been added.
“Youth will continue to provide input and consultation as we work to develop the inside of the building, including room layouts, colours and furniture,” says AHS project manager Beverly Wilson.
To date, AHS has held six community engagement sessions with more than 80 participants.
AHS will continue working with its partners, patients and families, and the community to ensure the design and services meet the needs of young patients, while also ensuring community input is incorporated. “I have had the privilege of seeing the design of the new centre for child and adolescent mental health,” says Sue Washington, a parent advisor who has helped provide input on the services and design features of the centre. “In addition to the services that will be provided, with all of the windows the design incorporates to provide natural light and the multi-purpose outdoor spaces, this new building will be an incredible resource for our city.”
With design and planning work now underway, the ACHF has set $50 million as the goal for its Build Them Up campaign to fully fund construction of the centre, along with program and research enhancements. Calgary-based Sahuri + Partners Architecture Inc. is the contracted prime consultant for the development of the centre for child and adolescent mental health.
The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation inspires our community to invest in excellence in child health, research and family-centred care. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation provides funding for innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment, advanced medical training and internationally-recognized pediatric research. The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation is a founding partner of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, as well as the primary funder.