Increasing mental health supports in response to COVID-19 April 2020

Additional funding will improve access to mental health and addiction recovery services, supports and resources for all Albertans.

The Government of Alberta is spending more than $53 million to implement more online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery support to make it easier for Albertans to access services from anywhere in Alberta during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know people are struggling right now, and we want Albertans to know that help is there for them through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring folks have the support they need to cope and stay mentally healthy during these tough times, which is why our mental health response is the largest in Canada, with funding greater than all other provinces combined.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

The Government of Alberta is investing $21.4 million to improve access to phone and online supports with existing helplines, including the Addiction Helpline, the Mental Health Helpline, the Kids Help Phone and the Community and Social Services Helpline (Alberta 211).

Further spending will contribute to online resources, available to all Albertans, supporting people who may not be able to access face-to-face services, including those in self-isolation or those in rural locations.

“It’s important that Albertans in all corners of the province have access to the mental health and addiction supports they need. These resources will help address the needs of children, youth and adults, and we will continue to work with our partners across the mental health and addiction sector to find innovative ways to support Albertans in need, both now and after the pandemic is behind us.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Today’s funding also includes:

  • $2.6 million to expand individual and group treatment to address family violence, addiction and mental health for Albertans
  • $4.2 million to expand the addiction and mental health support available through Primary Care Networks
  • $25 million for a new community grant program to enhance community mental health and addiction recovery for the public, including Indigenous communities, seniors, families and people experiencing social barriers, who are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need for mental health supports as a result of this very stressful situation are increasing daily and will continue to do so long after this outbreak has ended. This funding from the Alberta government means we can increase the 211 crisis lines, hire staff so people can reach a live person as well as provide support to those staff who are answering the calls, which can be very stressful in itself. This is vital funding that will make a difference in the lives of so many Albertans.”

Rob Yager, president & CEO, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

“We are grateful to continue partnering with the Alberta government to support the mental health of all Albertans as they deal with this difficult time. We have been supporting young people for over 30 years, but in partnership with the Government of Alberta, this will be the first time we will be able to leverage our experience to support Albertans of all ages.”

Katherine Hay, president & CEO, Kids Help Phone

“This outstanding announcement highlights the importance of continued recovery and ensures supports are still available for those that need them. Alberta’s response to mental health and addiction recovery is leading the entire country and should be the example for every province going forward.”

Crystal Smalldon, executive director, Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation

Today’s $53 million in one-time funding is in addition to the previously announced $140 million to create publicly funded addiction recovery spaces for 4,000 more Albertans each year.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s Mental Health Helpline is available 24-7 toll-free and offers confidential support for mental health concerns: 1-877-303-2642.
  • Alberta’s Addiction Helpline is available 24-7 toll-free and offers confidential support for alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and problem gambling: 1-866-332-2322
  • The Kids Help Phone is available 24-7 and offers professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people by texting CONNECT to 686868.
  • The Crisis Text Line Alberta is a service available 24-7 that offers information, referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support for Albertans of all ages, by texting CONNECT to 741741.
  • Alberta 211 is a free helpline that connects Albertans to community and social services in their area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in over 150 languages.