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Investing in Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy

Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Investment Framework


In March 2021, City Council approved Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, as well as the supporting Investment Framework. Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Investment Framework will be implemented through three streams, each with its own eligibility criteria:

  • Connect the Dots! is intended to enhance support for existing evidence-based community programs and services that respond to the mental health and addictions related issues affecting Calgarians. 
  • Change Can’t Wait! supports innovative ideas that bring change at the individual, family, community and policy or system levels. Funding is provided for 6-month fast pilot projects.
  • Targeted investments for evidence-informed projects and initiatives that advance the actions of the Strategy at the policy, systems or community level.

The goal of the funds is to support actions that create hope and strengthen support for everyone through three themes as identified in Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy:

  • Being well: Wellness at home, at school, at work and in the community
  • Getting help: What you need, when, where and how you need it
  • Staying safe: Security at all times, especially in a crisis

Investment in staying safe


The Community Safety Investment Framework supports Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy theme of STAYING SAFE. It is a collaborative effort between The City of Calgary, the Calgary Police Service and community partners to connect and identify ways to improve support for Calgarians in crisis due to mental health concerns and addictions by addressing gaps in: 

  • Crisis services for individuals, their families and support networks;
  • Outreach services;
  • The emergency response system in Calgary including any gaps in racially and culturally appropriate services.

Community Investment Table and Change Can't Wait! 2020


The City of Calgary earmarked $1 million for testing new initiatives through a fast pilot process called Change Can’t Wait! Community organizations participated in the funding by adding a combined $275,000.00. These organizations, together with The City, form the Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction “Community Investment Table”. They are:

  • Calgary Foundation
  • Calgary Health Foundation
  • Hunter Family Foundation
  • United Way of Calgary and Area
  • Viewpoint Foundation

Two calls for ideas for Change Can’t Wait! fast pilot projects went out in 2020. The first round focused on ideas to improve system access and navigation for mental health and addiction care systems. The second round focused on reducing stigma and building community resiliency. Ideas funded through Change Can’t Wait! are outlined below.

Funding for community-based projects 2019-2021


Prior to the approval of Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Investment Framework, Council approved $3 million for allocation in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for projects designed to prevent mental health and addiction issues, aimed at promotion, early intervention and/or targeted intervention. A list of the organizations, projects, and funding allocation can be found below.

Change Can’t Wait! Lessons learned

Organizations were given the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from their Change Can’t Wait pilot projects. Each organization learned valuable lessons specific to their funded project activities, but there were also some important themes that were highlighted by several projects: 

  • The importance of culturally relevant mental health care and services: 
  • The importance of addressing structural barriers for newcomers and the BIPoC community 
  • The importance of acknowledging the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health 
  • The importance of communication, collaboration, and unity within the system 
  • The importance of finding staff and covering administrative costs
  • The importance of digital literacy and understanding the role of technology 

Change Can’t Wait! Success Stories

Improving access with ‘The Right Service at the Right Time: An Online Connection Tool and Booking Solution (aka Community Connect YYC)’ (The Catholic Family Service of Calgary): 

“The site is designed to be straightforward and simple, empowering clients to take action by booking right into any one of the services at any time of day. While each partner can add eligibility criteria to access their services, all partners committed to minimize their entrance criteria to reduce as many barriers as possible. The Rapid Access Counselling offering continues to provide service with the no eligibility restriction whatsoever: there is an option on the site for literally everyone.” 

Improving navigation with ‘South Asian Youth Mental Health (SAYMH) Outreach Ambassadors: Training and Outreach Events’ (Punjabi Community Health Services Calgary Society): 

“Through the training and outreach ambassadors will do, we can help people navigate the mental health system more easily and be more likely to get help. Additionally, we were able to develop a website, saymhyyc.ca with compiled resources and a self-serve questionnaire that people can use to direct themselves to appropriate resources.” 

Reducing stigma with ‘The Community Wellness Desk at the Calgary Public Library’ (Calgary Public Library): 

“Awareness and understanding of appropriate services for mental health and wellness can be challenging for both an individual and their support network (spouses, partners, family member and/or friends), the Wellness Desk pilot has provided an opportunity to aid and strengthen caregivers and other support persons in learning how best to direct their loved ones to the right services. We believe this pilot has reduced stigma and offered a welcoming, safe, and discrete opportunity for all our communities to seek assistance with mental health concerns or issues.”

Change Can’t Wait! Projects and Funding – 2021

Organization Project name and description 2021 Round 3  funding amount
Calgary Korean Women's Association

Wellness Webinar Series - Promoting A Healthy Community: To promote health and wellness as well as support the Korean community through a webinar series.

$25,000 
The Immigrant Education Society 

Linking All Cultures Equitably (LACE) to Address Mental Health Needs of Newcomers: To collaboratively address gaps in services and target unique barriers experienced by newcomers and ethno-cultural Calgarians in accessing services for mental health and addictions.

$129,800 
University of Calgary

University of Calgary Recovery Community: To promote recovery from addiction, building community, and combatting addiction stigma on campus.

$32,345
Inn From the Cold Society

Vicarious Trauma Support Pilot Project: To implement a Vicarious Trauma Support Program for front-line workers.

$6,150
Hull Services

Helping Parents Navigate Children and Youth Mental Health and Addiction Supports: To help parents of children and youth struggling with mental health and addiction effectively navigate available resources and supports within our community.

$56,155
Siksika Family Services

A Culturally Based Recovery Program for Urban Siksika Nation Members facing Mental Health and Addiction: To support Siksika Nation members residing in Calgary and dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

$120,000
ECSSEN Career School

Calgary Chinese Mental Health Outreach Campaign: To promote mental health awareness and de-stigmatize mental health topics through an outreach campaign for the Calgary Chinese Community.

$34,173
The Healing Centred Cooperative

Mental Health Needs from long COVID: To create a music-based mental health and wellbeing program to immigrants presenting at a COVID-19 followup clinic with outreach into communities dealing with unmet mental health needs.

$96,000
MPC Foundation

From Night to Light: To implement a self-care program for seniors and older adults to acquire transformative mental health strategies to mitigate Covid19 trauma.

$25,800
Calgary Immigrant Women's Association

Neighbourhood Walk and Talk for Immigrant Moms and Tots: To increase physical and mental wellbeing of immigrant mothers with young children through outdoor activities that foster social inlcusion.

$10,000
The Calgary Between Friends Club

G.L.O.W. (Group Learning Opportunities and Workshops): To provide inclusive personal development and wellness workshops for people with disabilities centered around Social and Emotional Development, Health and Wellness Strategies, and Community Engagement.

$10,396
Calgary Reads (An Early Literacy Initiative) Society

Promoting Family Mental Health through Little Red Reading House Visits: To incorporate mental health and wellness awareness component to family visits to  Little Red Reading House. 

$9,375

The Colour Factor Ltd.

Community Care Circle: To provide an accessible virtual space for peer connection, healing and sharing mental health and wellness tools and resources specific to the unique needs of Black, Indigenous and Racialized communities.

$30,773

Calgary Towhid Centre 

Culturally-Informed Community Helpers Program - A Change from Inside: To train and support existing “natural” helpers within the community, that help reduce mental health service disparity and bridge the informal and formal support for  Farsi-speaking communities in Calgary.

$69,000
Muslims Community Foundation of Calgary

Wellness program: To  provide culturally relevant and responsive mental health and wellness services and early intervention of those experiencing mental health issues.

$101,400
Umoja Community Mosaic

The Mental Game: To integrate mental health skills and knowledge building into a community based soccer drop-in program.

$32,900
Immigrant Outreach Society

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Intervention (CAMHI): To provide culturally appropriate clinical mental health interventions for immigrants of East African Origin.

$87,228
Buds in Bloom/Bourgeons en Éclat

The Buds in Bloom Digital Storytelling Project: To increase wellness and community belonging of parents of children with disabilities through digital storytelling.

$28,005
ETHIOCARE

Ethiocare Youth Mental Health Worker: To provide mental health and addiction outreach services for youth and families across the East African communites in Calgary.

$45,500

Total 2021 Change Can't Wait! Allocations

$950,000

Change Can’t Wait! Projects and Funding – Round Two

Strategic Framework focus area: Resilient people and communities

​2020 funded projects​

Allocated amount

Organizations

2020 funded projects:

Ambassador Pilot Program - 9 Block and Stephen Avenue: Ambassadors will walk around City Hall and Stephen Avenue, interacting with people to strengthen a sense of belonging and inclusiveness and provide support as needed. 

Allocated amount:

$45,000

Organizations:

Calgary Downtown Association

2020 funded projects:

Creative Kits for Youth: Mental health focused resiliency tool kits and programming for youth. 

Allocated amount:

$37,500

 

Organizations:

Families Matter Society of Calgary

 

2020 funded projects:

Immigrant Family-based Interpreters Emotional Wellness Supports: To introduce information to better support children and youth who are providing interpretation and translation for family members into Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.  

Allocated amount:

$72,655

Organizations:

The Immigrant Education Society (TIES)

2020 funded projects:

Piloting the Comfort Collection Mental Health Bundle: Client families will receive resources that will provide strategies to promote children’s mental wellbeing through reading.

Allocated amount:

$25,000

Organizations:

Calgary Reads

2020 funded projects:

Treaty 7 Elders Sharing Circles Calgary and Beyond: Program to virtually connect Elders through online sharing circles to share stories of survival and resiliency as well as discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their communities.

Allocated amount:

$5,000

Organizations:

Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

 

Strategic Framework focus area: Reduced stigma

​2020 funded projects​

Allocated amount

Organizations

2020 funded projects:

Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening and Education Program: Education and research to reduce stigma and better support people with Autism accessing services in the homeless sector.

Allocated amount:

$18,200

Organizations:

CUPS Calgary Society

2020 funded projects:

East Meets West Mental Health Campaign and Forum: The campaign will focus on the mental health of the South Asian community and the forum will focus on improved service delivery for the South Asian ethnic group.

Allocated amount:

$20,000

Organizations:

Punjabi Community Health Service

2020 funded projects:

Pedagogy-based Emotional and Mental Wellness Intervention Pilot for Newcomers: To infuse strengths-based, emotional wellness pedagogy into the teaching, classroom management and lesson planning at settlement agencies.

Allocated amount:

$74,495

Organizations:

The Immigrant Education Society (TIIES)

2020 funded projects:

Speak Up, Speak Out: Open Up about Mental Health: Trained peer outreach to workers to carry out a stigma reduction campaign, provide workshops and presentations to South Asian and Filipino community. 

Allocated amount:

$10,000

Organizations:

Calgary Immigrant Women's Association

 

Strategic Framework focus area: Resilient people and communites and reduced stigma

​2020 funded projects​

Allocated amount

Organizations

2020 funded projects:Cultural Healing Tools for the BIPOC Community: Three cultural healing events that will draw on, and share the rich wellness practices within African, Indigenous and South Asian cultures. Allocated amount:

$22,834

Organizations:

The Colour Factor

2020 funded projects:

Learn Together, Recover Together, Resilient Together: South Calgary: A collaborative community development art project will build community and reduce stigma among people living with, or at risk of contracting, HIV.

Allocated amount:

$25,000

Organizations:

The SHARP Foundation & Habitus Consulting Collective

2020 funded projects:

Mental Wellness Through an Indigenous Lens: This initiative will connect participants with Elders from surrounding First Nations and provide land-based teachings to facilitate mental wellness.

Allocated amount:

$89,000

Organizations:

Stoney Nakoda Tsuut'ina Tribal Council

2020 funded projects:

Nurture Your Narrative: A Mental Health Storytelling Workshop: Digital storytelling about people's lived experience with mental health, the importance of removing stigma, and how to improve the system of care. 

Allocated amount:

$29,975

Organizations:

The Colour Factor

2020 funded projects:

Recovery Employment Cooperative:  A social enterprise cooperative which will improve recovery and employment outcomes for people transitioning from addiction treatment to the workplace.

Allocated amount:

$58,400

Organizations:

RecoveryWorx

2020 funded projects:

Specialized Caregiver Coach for Caregiver Capacity: Coaches will deliver a supportive four-week workshop called 'COMPASS for the Caregiver’ and provide support to caregivers.

Allocated amount:

$33,400

Organizations:

Alberta Caregivers Association (Caregivers Alberta)

2020 funded projects:

The Community Wellness Desk at the Calgary Public Library: Delivering mental health support at the Central Public Library via onsite social workers and service providers for vulnerable Calgarians confronting mental health and addictions challenges.

Allocated amount:

$22,800

Organizations:

Calgary Public Library Foundation

Change Can't Wait! Projects and Funding - Round One

​2020 funded projects​

Allocated amount

Organizations

2020 funded projects:

Shelter Diversion: Supporting individuals entering the shelter system for the first time to navigate their mental health and addiction needs and connect them with the appropriate resources.

Allocated amount:

$60,000

Organizations:

Calgary Alpha House Society

2020 funded projects:

Language Link to Mainstream Mental Health: Providing language support for newcomers to access mainstream mental health services.

Allocated amount:

$70,000

Organizations:

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society

2020 funded projects:

Mobile Street Health Team: Connecting vulnerable Calgarians accessing Emergency Medical Services to social supports and community connections through health navigators.

Allocated amount:

$55,000

 

Organizations:

Alberta Health Services - EMS Mobile Community Response Teams City Centre and Street CCRED (Community Capacity in: Education and Development)

 

2020 funded projects:

Recovery Coaches: Providing peer support for individuals with substance use disorder to navigate community resources and receive tailored care.

 

Allocated amount:

$101,900

Organizations:

Alberta Health Services and Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary

2020 funded projects:

Service Navigation for Vulnerable Calgarians: Bridging and connecting Calgarians to the best resources for their specific needs across different agencies.

Allocated amount:

$27,579

Organizations:

Calgary Counselling Centre and Canadian Mental Health Association - Calgary

2020 funded projects:

Anxiety Workshops for all Calgarians: Training to deliver Cognitive Behavioral Therapy programs for anxiety.

Allocated amount:

$17,850

Organizations:

Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network

2020 funded projects:

RESILIEN Confidential Wellness Wayfinder: Connecting Calgarians with relevant mental health services and peer support through a website/app.

Allocated amount:

$25,000

Organizations:

Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary, RESILIEN and Synaptic Spinal Cord Neuro Rehabilitation Centre

2020 funded projects:

Older Adult Men's Wellness Workshop and Peer Support: Delivering wellness workshops for older adult men to build knowledge, develop skills and connect with regular, ongoing peer support meetings.

Allocated amount:

$10,754

Organizations:

Carya Society of Calgary

2020 funded projects:

Accredited Wilderness Addiction Treatment Program: delivering a 30-day indigenous land-based-teaching treatment program for Indigenous youth.

Allocated amount:

$120,541

Organizations:

Enviros Wilderness School Association

2020 funded projects:

Seniors Mental Health and Addictions Outreach Team: Providing short term, in home care to seniors to increase protective factors, identify risk, navigate resources, reduce isolation and create safety action plans.

Allocated amount:

$36,375

Organizations:

Jewish Family Services

2020 funded projects:

Automated Self-Service Health Website: Connecting Calgarians to available mental health and addiction services, including community care options.

Allocated amount:

$56,000

Organizations:

Peer to Peer Labs Ltd.

2020 funded projects:

Online Connection Tool and Booking Solution: Connecting Calgarians to counselling services and appointment bookings with multiple organizations in one online tool.

Allocated amount:

$30,000

Organizations:

The Catholic Family Service of Calgary, YWCA, CUPS, Centre for Sexuality,Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary, Distress Centre and Collabo Systems

2020 funded projects:

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST): Integrating ASIST training into the Faculty of Nursing curriculum.

Allocated amount:

$55,200

Organizations:

University of Calgary - Faculty of Nursing and Centre for Suicide Prevention

2020 funded projects:

South Asian Youth Mental Health (SAYMH) Outreach Ambassador: Training South Asian youth to become mental health ambassadors for the South Asian community.

Allocated amount:

$15,570

Organizations:

University of Calgary and Punjabi Community Health Services

​ ​​​​

Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction - Funding

Outcome area: Reduced Crime
Organization Project name and description Funding amount
Calgary Alpha House Society DOAP 2.0: Building relationships with downtown businesses on Stephen Avenue and in East Village, as well as coordinating access to medical, shelter, housing and addiction programs $274,324 
Outcome area: Reduced harm
Organization Project name and description 2021 funding amount
Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary First Contacts: Indigenous Outreach Program at the Iitaohkanitsini'kotsiio'p Hub: Providing assistance to Indigenous people experiencing opioid and substance abuse crises via Indigenous Hub at SORCe $200,000 
McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association Journeys - Addiction Supports for Women: Providing integrated supports to pregnant or parenting women with addictions to reduce risk factors $308,926 
RESET Society of Calgary Exploitation Intervention & Transition (EXIT) Program: Facilitating and supporting safe exit from sexual exploitation and/or sex trafficking for women and their children $131,290 
Outcome area: Enhanced well-being
Organization Project name and description 2021 funding amount
Alexandra Community Health Centre Youth Mental Health and Addictions Integration: Providing an integrated support to youth aged 12 to 24 years to prevent serious mental health and addictions issues and concurrent problems in adulthood $342,000 
Autism Calgary Association Telling Their Stories: Strengthening Mental Health for individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder through one-on-one Adult Talk Support and virtual social networks $80,002
Big Brothers Big Sisters Society of Calgary and Area Mentoring for Mental Health: Increasing resilience of children and youth at risk of, or who are currently experiencing poor mental health $88,095
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society Centre for Refugee Resilience Family Therapy: Providing couselling and case management for refugee families through a client-centred and culturally -responsive approach $170,975
Calgary Immigrant Women's Association Supports for Immigrants and Refugees with Mental Health and Addiction Issues: Promoting help-seeking behaviour among immigrant women and their families, and connecting them to community resources $114,289
Centre for Sexuality Society LGBTQ Counselling and Support: Addressing the immediate and longer term challenges faced by LGBTQ community members through counselling and natural support development $85,000
Canadian Mental Health Association - Calgary Region Increasing Social Connections: Providing an integrated mental health and substance use supports that strengthen community-based mental health solutions and empower individuals and families $250,000
Carya Society of Calgary Act Out: Providing early intervention, skill-development program for grade 8 students and bridging them to Carya's continuum of support for youth and families $49,722
Closer to Home Community Services Society Community Connections - Mental Health and Well-being: Increasing knowledge of resources, social-emotional coping skills and social supports that mitigate mental health through the Teaching Family Model and parent support groups $191,837
Distress Centre Calgary Enhancing Online Crisis Support: Providing accessible, no-cost crisis intervention services that empower community members to make independent choices that enhance their quality of life $121,000
Hull Services Bridging the Gap: Providing services to young adults who are experiencing mental health concerns, issues with well-being, and barriers to service to help them access services, learn new skills and strengthen their support network $211,975
Punjabi Community Health Services Calgary Society Mental Health and Addiction Prevention Outreach for South Asian Community: Increasing awareness around mental health conditions, symptoms, coping strategies, and resources $100,000
Society de la petite enfance et de la famille du sud de l'Alberta  Supporting Mental Health in French: Supporting Francophone families through workshops and activities to promote awareness of mental health issues $46,200
Wood's Homes Exit Youth Hub and Outreach Addictions Specialist: Providing immediate on-site intervention, community prevention and diversion addictions support to vulnerable and at risk youth $103,606

​​​​Learn about other City of Calgary funding and grant amounts​​​​​​​

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