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Mental health review seeks input

October 6, 2015 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

The province is gathering input from Albertans on how to improve the lives of those living with addiction and mental health challenges.

A website is taking submissions and a committee struck by Premier Rachel Notley is holding meetings and presentations around the province.

Co-chairing the review is David Swann, a medical doctor who is also the leader of the Alberta Liberals and MLA for Calgary-Mountain View.

"It’s very important that we provide some good advice and come to grips with a very significant demand on our health system and a very significant loss of human potential," Swann said.

Only about six per cent of the province’s health budget goes toward addressing mental health, but the demand of mental health issues on the system is much greater than that, Swann said.

He said the system needs to provide more timely access, better quality of care and better continuity of care, basically get to people earlier and more effectively.

"As opposed to waiting until there’s a crisis, then a breakdown and a suicide," he said.

Mental health issues cover a broad spectrum, ranging from major illnesses like psychosis, to problems like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and all manner of addictions, Swann said.

"Teachers are a critical part of both identifying and solving some of these problems in a timely way," Swann said.

The complexity of addressing mental health is heightened by the fact that it touches all socio-economic, cultural and age groups, plus the fact that services are delivered via both private and public entities, he said.

So far the website has taken in 1,300 submissions, and the review has conducted meetings with numerous stakeholder groups.

The other co-chair is Danielle Larivee, NDP MLA for Lesser Slave Lake.

"We need to hear from all Albertans about mental health and addiction," she said in a news release. "Everyone, regardless of who they are, or where they live, needs to feel respected and cared for, and be able to receive the support they need. This review will help us achieve that."

Once the consultation phase is complete, the committee will present a report and recommendations to the government by the end of the year.

The online questionnaire is available until midnight, Friday, Oct. 23. The website is located at

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