Growing 211’s mental health and addiction support capacity

Press Release

Nov 23, 2022

Alberta’s government is investing more than $15 million over three years to help connect Albertans to local addiction and mental health services.

As part of building a recovery-oriented system of care, Alberta’s government is doubling 211 funding from $7.5 million to more than $15 million over three years to help people of all ages access critical addiction and mental health support services in their communities.

211 provides a single point of contact for information and seamless connections to health services and organizations that support a range of addiction and mental health challenges.

“Increasing funding for 211 is part of our government’s efforts to build a recovery-oriented system of care for mental health and addiction. Every month, thousands of Albertans across the province are reaching out to 211 for help, support and referrals to local services in their communities. For many of them, it’s a life-changing call.”

Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

Doubling 211’s funding will enable the call centre to significantly increase its capacity to help more Albertans, improve the way they connect people to services and enhance the referral services and crisis supports it offers. 211’s increased capacity will allow the service to:

  • Meet current call volumes, which have remained high since 2020.
  • Connect callers from rural and Indigenous communities with increased culturally and locally relevant supports.
  • Develop and implement a community engagement strategy to increase the understanding of the needs and challenges faced by underserved populations.
  • Develop and implement specialized navigation supports for children, youth and families.
  • Continue expanding the digital navigation and crisis support hub that allows for seamless transfers between virtual resources.

These additional supports will help this proven, time-tested virtual resource connect Albertans to essential services within Alberta’s recovery-oriented system of care.

“211 Alberta is a critical service that helps all Albertans access social sector supports they need, when and where they need it. This United Way initiative has never been more essential than right now, and this increased funding will help us show more Albertans where they can turn for help. 211 is an easy, barrier-free, 3-digit entry point to get help and support, available 24/7, across Alberta.”

Rob Yager, president & CEO, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

“Expansion of 211 services will enable people to access much-needed care, including evidence-based addiction services like what we offer at Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program. Alberta is a leading jurisdiction at helping people connect with much-needed opioid addiction treatment on demand. In fact, today any Alberta resident can start treatment when and where they need it, with no cost and with no waitlist. Any steps taken to better work together and provide more straightforward access for those seeking help is going to benefit Albertans, their families and communities on their path to recovery.”

Dr. Nathaniel Day, medical director VODP, Central Zone, Alberta Health Services

“CASA’s vision is a community where every family has access to timely mental health care and is empowered to thrive. We receive many of our young patients through provincial referrals, and expanding 211 Alberta brings us one step closer to that vision by connecting families to critical resources like those offered by CASA Mental Health and other community partners. This is the power of collaboration.”

Bonnie Blakley, chief executive officer, CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health

“We’re working to make sure that Albertans have access to high-quality, affordable counselling services no matter where they live. Virtual supports like 211 are an important gateway to services like ours, helping more Albertans find the help they need to improve their mental health.”

Robbie Babins-Wagner, chief executive officer, Calgary Counselling Centre

211 is an important component of Alberta’s recovery-oriented system of care, where everyone struggling with addiction and mental health challenges has access to comprehensive services and supports. Alberta’s government has made getting help easier and more affordable by adding more than 8,000 new publicly funded addiction treatment spaces, which are free for all Albertans, increasing access to life-saving addiction treatment medications, expanding affordable counselling options, increasing access to classroom mental health supports for students, and supporting the mental health of seniors.

Alberta’s government is also working to expand services and treatment capacity in Calgary and Edmonton, where the need is greatest. With $124 million in new funding, the government is building two new recovery communities to offer long-term residential addiction treatment, creating new hybrid health and police hubs to integrate these essential services, and strengthening harm reduction and recovery outreach teams to better connect people with overdose prevention supports. These efforts will help provide more life-saving services to those in need while building safer and healthier communities for all Albertans.

Quick facts

  • Albertans experiencing addiction or mental health challenges can contact 211 for information on services in their community.
  • 211 is available 24/7 by phone, text and chat. The service is free, confidential and available in more than 170 languages over the phone.
  • 211 helps connect people of all ages with other virtual supports, such as Kids Help Phone and the Addiction and Mental Health Helpline.
  • In 2021, 211 answered more than 100,000 requests from Albertans by phone, text and chat. More than 200,000 Albertans accessed the 211 service listings through the website.
  • Alberta spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.

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