During the Cochrane Cares Regional Well-Being Review, round table discussions identified Cochrane's need for additional mental health resources, especially for youth.
While Cochrane currently offers a walk in/appointment based clinic the service has limitations when it comes to hours and counsellor availability.
An anonymous local Cochrane mom was surprised to be declined service on her first and only visit to the centre with her preteen son, due to closing time.
"He was in bad state emotionally and it had been a very hard day. When I arrived at reception, both my son and I were in tears, visibly upset. I asked to see someone and was told they were closing soon and handed me a phone number to call, or told to drive to downtown Calgary to a walk in and we were sent along our way."
While things obviously worked out okay, she still wonders how many others may have reached out for help, been denied, and experienced a very different outcome.
Kari Murphy, another local mom, is very vocal when it comes to supporting those who need help in/during a mental health crisis. With suicide among youth on the rise, Murphy wants Cochrane to offer more services.
"The feedback I have received is that there is such a lack of resources for the Cochrane youth. Our society is in a mental health crisis right now, there is a suicide epidemic going on and what are we doing about it?"
Murphy through her own personal loss has become a sounding board for youth in need. While Murphy wants to help, she feels helpless when it comes to referring support.
"I am sure there are great people at Cochrane Mental Health but those few great people are burning out at an alarming rate and then the rest, part of the coping mechanism of being in the industry for so long is disassociation. We can't disassociate from our youth because we are losing them. My life is testament to that."
Susan Flowers, Manager of Family Community Support Services(FCSS), says mental health support was definitely noted as an area that needs additional resources and support.
"It is a big topic, we know there is lots of services through the Parent Link for 0-6 but then between 6-18 there is lack of services in counselling and help for both parents and youth that are stressed, anxious, and all the things that lead to mental health problems."
With limited resources being offered in town, many families are forced to make their way to Calgary which can lead to additional stressors on time, cost, and travel.
Flowers says as of now there is no simple answer. "It needs to be addressed in multiple different ways. Counselling is one thing that kept coming up, affordable counselling for families in the community."
While there is no quick solution, Flowers, shares the conversation on finding a solution to the community problem is just beginning.
Both local moms would love to see a 24 hour mental health service being provided to youth in crisis.
If you are in a time of crisis reach out for help.
- Family and Community Support Services 403-851-2250
- Addiction and Mental Health Services 403-851-6100
- Cochrane and Area Victim Services 403-851-8055
- Cochrane Community Health Centre 403-851-6000
- Cochrane Youth Association 403-932-4747
- Cochrane RCMP 403-932-2211 or 911
- 24 Hr Distress Centre Crisis Line 403-266-4357
- 24 Hr Community Resource Team 403-299-9699
- Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault 1-877-237-5888
- Child and Family Services 403-297-2995
- Connection Line (264-Teen, Peer Talk Line) 403-264-8336