Calgary agencies partner to launch ‘rapid access’ mental health program for individuals facing homelessness

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She said traditional counselling doesn’t work for people without a home, which is why this partnership is key to tackling issues of accessibility and success related to mental health programming.

CUPS and CFS were selected as partners by the homeless foundation after a request for proposal was issued last May, in search of agencies interested in providing mental health supports for Calgarians experiencing homelessness.

The pilot will merge the CUPS Shared Care Mental Health program, which consists of mental health clinicians, physicians and psychiatrists, with the CFS Rapid Access Counselling program, an Alberta-wide, single-session counselling service that can be booked online or by phone.

“The concept of a virtual, rapid access booking at any time, day or night, is really a helpful and successful thing, particularly in partnership with the agencies we fund because they’re the ones at the front line with people experiencing homelessness,” said Jones.

There are currently 621 Calgarians waiting for housing on the city’s triage list, including singles, families and youth. Over 78 per cent of these individuals have identified mental health challenges, according to the social agencies.

Carlene Donnelly, executive director of CUPS, said the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people living without a home or accessing emergency shelters.

“I think some of the things that have been highlighted during, through and from COVID-19 is a much more intense focus on mental health,” said Donnelly.

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