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Mental health support needed for youths, Didsbury council told

Hope 4 MVC Kids Society provides support to families across Mountain View County
didsbury-news

DIDSBURY — There is an ongoing need for mental health supports for youths across Mountain View County, including in Didsbury, town councillors were told June 22.

Hope 4 MVC Kids is a non-profit society and CRA registered charity that provides support to families across Mountain View County with children in hospital or otherwise in need of medical care and support. 

Founder Lisa Nicholson appeared before council as a delegation to provide an update on the society’s activities, plans and programs.

The organization has 12 board members, most of whom have personal or professional experience with children with medical challenges, as well as more than 30 volunteers, including about 10 from Didsbury. 

Regarding eligibility and selection criteria, the society covers families with children in Mountain View County, including in area towns and villages, ages 0-18 where the child has a medical diagnosis from a certified medical practitioner.

One of the society’s programs supports local children who require therapy, such as counselling, mental health needs, alternative therapy not covered by health insurance or other sources, as well as prescription supports not covered by health insurance or other sources.

“This is one (program) that we have seen a huge increase, even prior to the pandemic, in therapy supports, particularly in the mental health and also prescription support,” said Nicholson. “During the pandemic, as an example, many families lost their medical benefits. We fill in the gaps there, assisting with prescription coverage.

“And it’s the same with therapy. We work along side Alberta Health Services. There may be a wait list where they may not have a specialized children’s counsellor, so they may need to go private and we help fill in the gaps with things like that.”

In the last six months, the society has seen two long-term mental health cases and an attempted suicide in Didsbury alone, she said.

“These are the things we are seeing in your community and I think it is really important to highlight,” she said. “We are finding particularly with the mental health stories these are teens, with the youngest we’ve had reach out for help being five years old and the oldest 17.

“There are broad spectrum of health needs in the community. These children are still trying to grow up in the community.” 

Another society program provides support with car parking, meals, fuel, and sibling care, and if long-term hospital admission is required, there is also potential for additional supports such as rent/mortgage/utility assistance.

As well, assistance is provided for local children who need adaptive equipment for home or school that is not covered by other sources.

The society also assists with home adaptations due to illness or disability that is not covered by other sources, and assists local families with support, advocacy and information.

The society raises funds in the community through various activities, with 100 per cent of funds collected going to support approved families. Operating costs are paid from grants.

The society has approved about 80 applications to date, totalling about $220,000, she said. 

“I can tell you that 36 of those applications come from Didsbury,” she said.

Regarding growth predictions, she said there has been about a 30 per cent yearly rise in applications since 2013. 

Over the next five years, the amount needed is predicted to reach $80,000 in 2021, $104,000 in 2022, $135,000 in 2023, and $175,000 in 2024.

“Of course we may see even more (requests) for mental health support following the pandemic,” she said.

The society’s Be Kind & Rewind - An '80s Experience charity fundraising gala event is scheduled for Nov. 27 at the Willow Land Barn outside Olds.

Additional volunteers and corporate sponsors are always welcome, she said.

Society officials can be contacted at 403-507-2299, through www.hope4mvckids.org or on Facebook.

Council accepted Nicholson’s report as information.