Rural Mental Health Project Background and History
Over four million people live in Alberta, with 38% of those residing outside of the seven largest urban centres in the province. Alberta is home to 220,695 Indigenous people — over half of living outside of Calgary and Edmonton. With respect to mental health, the Government of Alberta’s Valuing Mental Health report (2015, p.15) highlighted the need for attention in rural and remote areas due to the challenges – including barriers such as scarcity, cost, & effectiveness (e.g., no long-term follow up) of services.
The Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, municipal governments and non-governmental organizations are challenged to support communities due to the pace of growth in urban, rural and remote communities. We all are challenged to think differently about how we each can play a role in working together to support improved mentally healthy communities. In this environment, CMHA continues to strive towards its vision of “mentally healthy people in a healthy society.”
CMHA AB’s grant proposal focused on building the capacity of rural communities through education, promotion and prevention activities related to mental health, mental disorders and addiction, and community mental wellness. Consistent with CMHA’s history, this type of grassroots support has the potential to identify broad areas of strength, concerns and opportunities, and support communities to identify and work to build local projects and capacity.
Mental health challenges impact all Albertans directly or indirectly; necessitating thoughtful, population-based approaches to identify community strengths, gaps and opportunities on a local level. Mentally healthy communities requires us to think broadly about mental health and mental illness and to focus on the areas that we live, work, and play – this includes but goes beyond access to treatment services.