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Alberta funding local groups as province builds recovery oriented care model to treat mental health

Alberta Associate Minister for Mental Health Jason Luan has indicated how impressed he is by the work being done in the Lloydminster area when it comes to mental health, addictions and recovery.

His comments come as several non profits in the area have received government grant money that has been extended across the province in the wake of the COVID pandemic to offer mental health support.

Minister Luan made mention of the Thorpe Recovery Centre, Lloydminster Interval Home Society and Residents In Recovery as the government works with various groups who are already on the ground in the communities.

“We believe government alone cannot solve this problem, but if we partner and leverage community partners with us, with their network, their connections, creative solutions will come to the table.”

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Luan has visited the Walter “Slim” Thorpe Recovery Centre, which has roots in the area dating back to 1975. The outcome of that visit was a 2.2 million dollar investment per year, for 3 years.

Since April 2020, “Slim” Thorpe officials say they have helped 697 people on their recovery journey. Of those, over 230 were made possible because of the expansion funding. The Alberta government/AHS funds 80% of  Thorpe’s beds, SHA 3% and Fee-for-Service is 17%.

Given the level of demand, wait times to get in to treatment have been reduced from about 12-16 weeks to 4-8 weeks. In an email, Development Coordinator Sara Fox says staff at the Thorpe are grateful for the additional support.

The Residents In Recovery community has also benefited from COVID relief grants to support their virtual programs. Since August 2020, they have gotten 3 grants totaling over $96,000. They have a funding agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan which covers 40% of their operating costs. They accept clients from anywhere in that province, but only accept local Alberta clients.

Tyler Lorenz, Executive Director at Residents In Recovery says their model supports clients for a fraction of the cost of sheltering, incarceration, detoxing or hospitalization. They run four houses supporting  some 25 people with out-patient sober living, and this money will keep those programs going.

The Lloydminster Interval Home Society also got some $59,000 from the Alberta government to support their work. The Interval Home which provides support particularly to women and children in crisis, gets about 60% of their operating budget from the Alberta government and the rest from fundraising.

Luan is speaking to the next steps that the government will be taking, including a based in Alberta recovery model.

“So what we are doing today is to centre every program with how you help people get recovery [who are] living unhealthy lifestyles. So we are developing, what we call a recovery oriented continuum care model. That’s the Alberta model.”

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In March 2020, the Alberta government rolled out their Mental Health Addiction Action plan of some $53 million, of which some $25 million dollars is going to towards COVID mental health recovery support.

The Minister indicated that mental health supports are now available to Albertans 24/7, and can be accessed by dialing 211.

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