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Peer support team now helping kids and families

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Thanks to you, for the first time at an AHS Calgary facility, families are now benefiting from the assistance of teen and parent peer support workers.

In the Fall of 2020, a three-person team trained and guided by experts at the Canadian Mental Health Association began supporting families in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. On duty Monday to Saturday from 9am to 9pm, they are uniquely qualified to help reduce anxiety, stress and uncertainty for families.

“The peer support workers offer a lens that differs from the mental health professionals. Their lived experience, their resiliency and desire to help others benefits not only the kids and families, but the entire Psychiatric Emergency team,” says Carol Coventry, program manager. “They offer a steady hand while kids and families are in crisis and waiting in the Emergency department.”

“We are here to listen, empathize with, and walk alongside patients and families, advocating, empowering and building resilience,” says peer support worker Jason Adair. “We use our own lived experience in mental health recovery to emotionally support patients and their families as they navigate their journey through the healthcare system.”

The team has developed coping skills/activity kits for children waiting for assessment or hospital admission. These kits help young people tell their stories and begin to look at developing goals for themselves.

In addition to providing front-line support, the new team is also part of an important research project which will help to inform and develop the peer support program at the new Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health.

Peer support has been shown to result in improved outcomes for clients, decreased visits to the emergency department, and increased engagement with primary care support. The team hopes to add two more members this summer who will support families beyond the Emergency department and into the community with Acute at Home.

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