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Alberta

You are NOT alone! Text4Hope aims to help Albertans shoot down the Covid-19 Blues

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Are you self-isolated or quarantined? Are you feeling anxiety, stress, angst, depressed or struggling through this COVID-19 crisis? Alberta Health Services (ASH) has launched a new daily, no cost mental health and wellness text-based service called, Text4Hope.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, talks about the launch of the new mental health program Text4Hope at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton Photo Courtesy / AHS

“Connection is so vitally important to our mental health and well-being,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health as she explained the free program, “aims to help provide encouragement and hope to Albertans.” Continuing, “Text4Hope sends subscribers (a daily) text message of support and encouragement, to ease stress or anxiety.” All an Albertan has to do to sign-up for this platform, “Is texted, Covid- 19 hope, to 393939 to subscribe.” Hinshaw said, “In return, they will receive text messages on healthy thinking or actions to help manage their mood.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta & AHS’s Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Community Mental Health, created a similar outlet for people during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires, said “One of the biggest benefits to Text4Hope is that it offers immediate support when experiencing stress and anxiety.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta & AHS’s Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Community Mental Health created the platform Text4Hope. Photo Courtesy/Department of Psychiatry U of A

No community-based Alberta-wide project like this can come together this fast without the generous financial support of numerous organizations, helping ASH make Text4Hope possible include; the Mental Health Foundation, the University Hospital Foundation, Calgary Health Trust, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation   and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. 

The initiative cost four dollars per-person to run through this three-month project and is budgeted for 2-million-dollars right now. Donations are being accepted by all of the non-profit partners that have put up in advance to make Text4Hope possible.

While this program provides a free, evidence-based one-way text communication and is a helpful option for people in self-isolation, or quarantined and those in remote locations around the province, Dr. Agyapong stressed, “The program isn’t intended to replace (face to face) therapies or interventions but is rather another added support to someone’s overall care plan.”

All of Alberta Health Services mental health support lines and web resources remain operational during this time. For details and links for the services available in your health region across Alberta, visit this link; “Help in Tough Times

Dr. Hinshaw added that the “program is an additional resource to help us find encouragement and strength as we navigate the day-to-day challenges of a new normal.”

Stay home plea from a healthy Canadian shocked to be a victim of COVID

Alberta

Central Alberta city to close homeless camp as future plans unknown

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WETASKIWIN, Alta. — A central Alberta city is closing a homeless encampment with help from Mounties because of safety risks it says will persist if it remains open.

Wetaskiwin voted last week to close “tent city” as most, if not all, people who were living there are now using the nearby warming shelter run by the Mustard Seed or the Samson Cree shelter.

Local fire services say they attended multiple fire-related calls to the camp since it opened in August, including one severe structure fire where “the possibility of death was very imminent,” and two instances where people sustained serious burns after falling into flames.

RCMP say they attended 37 calls related to assault, robbery, weapons and arson.

At one point, up to 60 people lived rough in the camp after the city forced the closure of its only shelter, but numbers dwindled with frigid temperatures and hindered social agency supports.

Provincial funding for the temporary shelter, which is a stone’s throw from the camp, is in place until March with no clear plans by the city on what happens if or when it closes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Second-degree murder charge laid after ‘unprovoked’ attack at southern Alberta prison

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DRUMHELLER, Alta. — RCMP say a man at a medium-security federal prison in southern Alberta has been charged in the death of a fellow inmate.

Mounties say officers responded to a call Wednesday of a serious assault at Drumheller Institution. 

They allege an assault on 34-year-old Jeffrey Ryan of Parkland County, Alta., was unprovoked.

RCMP say Ryan sustained serious injuries and later died in hospital.

Ashley Baird of Nanaimo, B.C., who is 38, has been charged with second-degree murder and is to appear in Drumheller provincial court on Feb. 11. 

Police say an autopsy has been ordered by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and will be performed in the coming days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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