Alberta appoints chief mental health officer to lead support for flood victims

Responsible for co-ordinating deployment of resources, providing information
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/02/2013

To help victims of the recent flooding cope with the emotional and psychological consequences of this disaster, Alberta is consolidating mental health resources under the responsibility of a new chief mental health officer, Michael Trew.

“The flood has obviously had a huge impact on infrastructure — our homes, buildings and businesses — but, it will have an even greater impact on the people of Alberta. Disasters like this can cause enormous mental and emotional strain, and our goal is to ensure Albertans have access to the support systems they need, when and how they need them,” said Premier Alison Redford.

“Trew’s appointment will ensure a co-ordinated mental health approach in Alberta, with supports and resources available to any Albertans who need them,” said Health Minister Fred Horne. “Disasters of this magnitude can have enduring emotional and psychological consequences, and we want to do everything we can to support Albertans who will be coping with the stress and emotional impact of this disaster in the weeks and months ahead.”

Trew will report directly to the minister of health and will ensure mental health priorities are being addressed to help those in affected communities who may be experiencing emotional or psychological distress. This includes co-ordinating the deployment of mental health resources, providing mental health information and ensuring the emotional needs of flooding victims are addressed and met.

“After a disaster like we’ve experienced in Alberta, people have to deal with a number of stresses, and each person has their own experience of distress,” said Trew. “We must ensure that the full spectrum of emotional support is in place — from self care, to the informal support of family and friends, right up to professional support. It is essential that the emotional recovery infrastructure is a full partner in this disaster recovery process.”

Addiction and mental health staff have already been visiting communities to talk with residents and provide additional supports, along with personal supports provided by the Canadian Red Cross.

Mental health resources related to disaster recovery are available on the Alberta Health Services website. Albertans experiencing emotional distress, or who are concerned about the emotional well-being of others, are encouraged to contact the mental health help line toll-free at 1-877-303-2642.

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