Closer to Home Community Services is excited to announce the launch of its new Airdrie-based youth mental health program, Viewpoints.

A preventative, evidence-based program, Viewpoints aims to support overall mental wellness for youth in Airdrie by increasing awareness of and access to mental health resources while decreasing the stigma of mental illness.

Viewpoints is funded through the City of Airdrie’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Program. “The City of Airdrie, in partnership with the Government of Alberta, is pleased to support local social programs that address the mental health needs of youth,” says Clay Aragon, Team Leader, Community Development and Social Planning at the City of Airdrie.

The program will provide youth, parents, caregivers and the community with the tools needed to deal with mental health concerns early, before it becomes a serious issue.

“Catching youth early is critical,” says Karen Olivier, CEO of Closer to Home. “Research shows that this age group is most vulnerable to experiencing mental illness. We want to help youth before they begin experiencing the risks of poor mental health, like school failure, substance abuse, self-harm, suicide and other serious problems.”

By connecting with local schools, guidance counsellors, sports coaches and other community partners to identify youth aged 14-24 who may either be at risk of mental health issues or who may benefit from mental wellness resources, Viewpoints ensures youth are able to access support even before they start experiencing symptoms of poor mental health.

Closer to Home has been a part of the Airdrie community since 1998, when it opened the first six-bed group home with Children’s Services funding. Since then, Closer to Home has developed more partnerships and strengthened trust amongst community members, expanding its community-based services with the addition of the Family Matters program, providing intensive family preservation services for Airdrie and area families at risk of breaking down.

These existing ties will strengthen the impact of Viewpoints, which is designed to complement many of the existing mental health services in Airdrie. Demand in the city is high, and many youths and families need access to more resources in the evenings and on weekends.

With Viewpoints, youths and families will be able to get the help and resources they need outside of regular school and business hours. Information sessions, youth activities, drop-in times and other events will be held regularly to make information, resources and support available to youths, parents or caregivers in a timely and user-friendly way.

In collaboration with other mental health providers, schools and community partners, Viewpoints provides Airdrie with an accessible program that will increase youth self-esteem and community knowledge of mental health and coping skills while decreasing discrimination and stigma around mental illness.

To find out how you or your child can get involved with Viewpoints, please contact Kelly Halverson,
Outreach Worker, at khalverson@closertohome.com.