Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Foundation work expected to begin in May

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, it does so amidst change and uncertainty. Thanks to our partners who share the vision for enhanced child mental health services, we are very pleased to announce that construction of Calgarys new Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health continues to forge ahead to help kids and families in our community. With enhanced safety measures in place, progress on the build moves steadily ahead.

Excavation and shoring continues at the site of Calgary's new Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health.

From the day they were awarded the construction management contract for the new Centre, the team at Stuart Olson knew this project was going to be a special experience.

As Stuart Olson’s project manager for the Centre, Stephanie Laing can see a heightened sense of pride among all who are working on the build every day.

Stuart Olson project manager Stephanie Laing says that progress has been steady and significant since the groundbreaking ceremony in November.
"Trades are also telling us that this is a project they want to get behind. It means something to people." — Stephanie Laing, Stuart Olson Project Manager

“It’s easy in our line of work to just focus on details like dimensions and timelines,” says Laing. “When we started this project, as a team, we took stock of what we were building and made a point of remembering why it’s so important. Trades are also telling us that this is a project they want to get behind. It means something to people,” she says.

“In an industry that’s not known to be too open about our feelings, it’s nice to see the conversation changing. People are talking about how their family or friends have dealt with mental health challenges and how they want to help.”

Since the groundbreaking celebration at the end of November, Laing says that steady and significant progress continues on the construction site.

In light of COVID-19, and to ensure all operations continue in a safe and healthy manner, the company has enacted a range of measures including mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers, enhanced sanitation, social distancing guidelines during work hours as well as breaks, and no-contact thermal screening of all workers entering the site.

Deep services work was started in the fall and will resume again in the spring. January saw the attention shift to the installation of the temporary shoring of the hill in preparation for excavation. Hundreds of loads of dirt have been hauled from the property to accommodate the “reverse walkout” design of the building.

A high-water table and the extreme winter conditions in January presented some construction challenges, which were proactively and successfully met. It is anticipated that foundation work will begin in the next month. Tenders for the building envelope, structural steel, mechanical and electrical were closed mid-March.

Now more than ever, children and teenagers need the support of their parents, grandparents, extended family and loved ones to help them build resilience and work through the challenges of these unprecedented times.

That’s why the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation is partnering with Alberta Health Services, the Mental Health Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Calgary Health Trust, Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, University Hospital Foundation and researchers from across the province to launch an evidence-based text messaging service to reduce stress and anxiety faced by young people, families and caregivers.

Text4Hope is an innovative, evidence-based text messaging service that is now open to all Albertans experiencing stress or anxiety related to COVID-19.

Sign up for this service simply by texting

COVID19HOPE to 393939

What happens when I sign up? 

You will receive daily Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-informed supportive messages for three months. These texts will be designed to address negative feelings related to the global pandemic. Written by therapists and counselors, the messages will change each day and be consistent for all recipients.

What makes us think this will help?

We know that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. This program builds on an initiative called Text4Mood that was implemented in northern Alberta in 2016. It was recognized for its success by the Mental Health Innovations Network, headquartered at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Eighty-two percent of subscribers responding to a survey about Text4Mood reported that the daily messages made them feel more hopeful about managing issues; 77 percent felt more in charge of managing depression and anxiety; 75 percent said the messages made them feel connected to a support system; and 83 percent reported an improvement in their overall mental wellbeing.

Share the support

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and our colleagues from like-minded health foundations across the province are partnering with Alberta Health Services to provide this important service to all Albertans. Amidst the constant stream of media updates tracking infection and death rates around the world, we hope an infusion of evidence-based positive and supportive messaging could be a much-needed timely and welcome relief to you and those you love. Please share this resource with your friends and family.


Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 today. Normal data rates apply.

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Acute At Home made possible by community support for Build Them Up campaign

Thanks to generous community support, construction of Calgary’s first Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health is now underway. Through a partnership among Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the community, the Centre will begin providing new services for young people and their families in late 2021. Even before the Centre opens, donations to the Build Them Up campaign are making a number of crucial programs and research initiatives possible, including Acute at Home.

Mental health crises come in all shapes and sizes, and not all of them require hospitalization.

Supported by community donations to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, Acute at Home provides clinical and therapeutic care for young people in their own homes, in their own communities. It supports families who need help but don’t need to be hospitalized, or who lack the ability to attend appointments. It helps parents navigate the healthcare system and will advocate on their child’s behalf at school. It’s a lifeline for families who often feel like they’re treading water.

“I really can't stress enough how important this program is, not only to my family but our community,” says Jenn, a Calgary mom whose son struggled with his mental health. Although he was well enough to be discharged from hospital, he and his family clearly needed help.

Helping kids heal in their own community

“This program offered our son a chance to heal from his trauma in the comfort of his home, surrounded by the people who love him.”

Comprised of nursing staff, family counsellors, social workers and therapists, Acute at Home is a nimble, on-call team that helps families with urgent mental health needs. The team works with experts in hospital emergency departments to identify families who meet the threshold for Acute at Home care. From there, team members meet with parents and young people where they’re at, whether it’s the family home at 7 p.m. or at the neighbourhood coffee shop.

Social workers and therapists like Carol Coventry support young people in crisis through Acute at Home.

Members of the team met with Jenn and her son at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and quickly followed up with visits to the family home at times that made sense for the family, often in the evening. Therapists provided parent coaching and family counselling. The team also met with staff from school to ensure teachers clearly understood his needs.

"I truly believe that without access to this program our family wouldn't be where it is today" — Jenn, Calgary mother

For five months the team worked with the family. When the time was right, Acute at Home connected Jenn and her son with an ADHD clinic that Jenn says was vital to his recovery and treatment. There were no further emergency department visits.

“I truly believe that without access to this program our family wouldn't be where it is today,” says Jenn. “It gave us the tools that we will be able to use for many years to come.”

Noorani Khalfan, Clinical Supervisor for Acute at Home, says the team’s success is due to its flexibility and ability to integrate within a family’s schedule.

“We meet families where they’re at,” she says. “If the child is not comfortable with sit-down appointments, then we’ll go for a walk and we’ll bring the family dog. If the family needs help at school, then we will bring everyone to the table. We will facilitate those discussions. We are breaking the barriers of traditional mental health and system care.”

With the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, community donations enabled the Acute at Home experts to rapidly redesign their care delivery model, becoming among the first in the city to make the switch to video and phone appointments. Kids and families responded positively to the change, grateful to receive the support they needed in a safe and timely way.  

Mental health is a journey, not an episode, says Khalfan. It’s a test of strength for any family that walks it. However, even today when mental health is at the fore, stigma still exists.

"In order to be resilient, they first need to feel safe." — Noorani Khalfan, Clinical Supervisor, Acute at Home

Jenn asked her last name and the name of her son be left out of this story because she was afraid of what his school mates might say or think.

“This is why Acute at Home is so important,” says Khalfan. “Not every family is ready to discuss their issues openly, and in order to be resilient they first need to feel safe.”

Acute at Home was developed by the AHS Child and Adolescent Addiction, Mental Health and Psychiatry Program (CAAMHPP) in partnership with Wood’s Homes. The program is currently accessed through the Emergency Department at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and will expand to the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health once it opens. The Centre will be part of a larger continuum of care that involves CAAMHPP and community agencies working together for kids and families.

Be part of the movement to make this Centre a reality.

Donate today.


Telephone: 403-955-8818
Toll free: 1-877-715-KIDS (5437)


Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation
28 Oki Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, T3B 6A8

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