Mental Health Reform in Alberta: Where Are We Going?

Mental illness, in its various forms, will affect at least 1 in 5 Albertans during their lifetime. Last year, 19,000 Albertans were hospitalized for mental disorders. Depression is one of the leading diagnoses paid for under the Alberta government’s health insurance.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young men aged 15 – 24. Many homeless people suffer from mental illness.

Alberta has had a checkered history in the treatment of the mentally ill; but changes are occurring. The province has been engaged for the past several years in a process of mental health reform.

A Provincial Mental Health Board has been created to coordinate this process. Many hospital beds have been closed in Ponoka and most recently the delivery of mental health services has been divested to the Regional Health Authorities.

Currently, the province is developing a plan for a comprehensive mental health system for the future.

  • How is Alberta doing?
  • Are we on the right track?
  • Where should we be going with this important issue?

Speaker: Ron LaJeunesse. Ron has been an advocate for mental health in Alberta for the past 35 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta Division.

He is the winner of the prestigious MacEwan prize for his book entitled Political Asylums, an incisive history of the treatment of the mentally ill in Alberta.

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