One of the reasons the 100 Men Who Give A Damn in Airdrie gave for awarding $10,000 to the Airdrie Health Foundation (AHF) at their meeting last week was the fact the Foundation had a clear vision of how to use the money.
In fact, according to AHF Board Chair and Founder Michelle Bates, they know exactly where the funds are going.
"The money is going to be used for one of the programs we're funding and that's the Alberta Health Services / RCMP Mental Health Liaison Team. That is a team of RCMP officers and Health Nurse Clinicians that will form a team and when there's a 9-1-1 call and there's a mental health component to that call, that team will be dispatched."
Right now, Bates says, if the RCMP receive that type of call, an officer must decide on what to do with the person, whether they're taken to jail, to the hospital or are sent home without receiving a lot of help. The team will be able to go to the call and follow up, not only helping the person in need but also assisting the family with a situation that's ongoing.
Bates says a similar program is accomplishing great things in Grande Prairie. "They've been able to de-escalate about 60 percent of the situations that they respond to so that's huge, it's immense,"
The RCMP and the Airdrie office of Mental Health are seeing a growing number of calls. Last fall alone, Airdrie Mental Health received 507 calls. The RCMP also report an increase in mental health-related calls, climbing from 306 to a staggering 444 in the last year. Tragically, eight of those calls include suspected or confirmed suicides. A suspected suicide is one where no note is left behind.
Bates explains that even on their downtime, the AHS/RCMP Mental Health Team can go through 9-1-1 calls and see if there is a pattern that's developing.
"One of our doctors gave an example. They had a patient that, unknowing to them, had called the RCMP 15 times in a matter of a couple of months worried that someone was following them or coming down the back alley to do harm to them. They just kept making those calls. This team can go through and see if there's a pattern and then they can reach out to these people and get them the resources needed too. So that will save on the RCMP and it will save on our mental health clinics as well. It's huge that we're funding this and the RCMP and the City of Airdrie are taking action to help with this program as well."
AHF has committed to raising $120,000 for the program over two years. Bates says receiving the $10,000 now allows them to work with Alberta Health Services and get the Nurse Clinician part of the program up and running, something she hopes to have done by September.
To raise more money for the Mental Health Program as well as a program called Pregnancy and Beyond, AHF is hosting their 5th Annual Light Up The Night Gala at Genesis Place on September 29th. The evening is a black-tie affair with a sit-down meal and cirque aerialist performers. Bates says they've set a goal of raising $160,000 for the two programs. AHF is also looking for monthly or one time donors and silent auction items for the gala.
Tickets to the Light Up The Night Gala are on sale now for $150 each. They're available on the Foundation's website here.
AHF acts as a champion for enhancing essential health care initiatives in Airdrie. They were integral in helping to get 24-Hour Urgent Health Care for the city in 2017.
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