Renderings unveiled for new Calgary pediatric mental health centre

Architectural renderings of a new Calgary centre for child and adolescent mental health show plans for a three-storey facility that will fit into the hillside and feature many curves and bends.

“We met with parents and some of the kids at an advisory level and they told us right away they didn’t want a boxy building. They didn’t want something that looked like a hospital,” said Lee Mill, project architect for the centre.

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“We came back with this theme that’s sort of an origami theme.”

First announced in May, the centre will be built in the northwest Calgary community of Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill. The new centre will have a mental health walk-in service, intensive outpatient therapy and a day hospital program.

Dr. Chris Wilkes, the head of Child, Adolescent Psychiatry with Alberta Health Services (AHS), says the new facility and programs are desperately needed.

“One in five children will have a diagnosable mental health disorder and one of the problems is having timely access to mental health professionals.

“The reality is often they go undiagnosed or they don’t seek professional help. So of those with disorders, only 25 per cent actually get help.”

Right now, families looking to access mental health services for their children often go to the emergency department. The new facility will offer parents a single point of entry outside the hospital.

The centre is being built in partnership between AHS and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF).

Money raised by the ACHF will pay for all building costs. The foundation has pledged to raise $50 million for the project.

Construction is expected to start next fall and take two years to complete.

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