Family and Social Support in Alberta

Albertans enjoy family and social supports in the form of services offered to families, individuals, people with disabilities, children, and seniors. Services and financial assistance are offered to people coping with crisis. A list of finance and credit options is availabe here.

Family Supports

Medical and financial benefits are offered under the Child and Youth Support Program. They are available to caregivers of children whose parents are either unwilling or unable to look after them. Caregivers are entitled to receive basic and limited supplementary benefits. The basic benefit is up to $148 per months for children aged 12 – 17 and up to $105 a month for children aged 0 – 11. Limited supplementary benefits include school expenses and fees, child care expenses, extended medical coverage, and an annual supplementary benefit. Grants are available in the form of Community Partnership Youth Grants to provide financial assistance for projects targeting youth at risk. Projects with a focus on mentoring meet the criteria as they have the potential to help young people to improve their social skills, self-esteem, and confidence. The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate works with young people at risk, offers legal representation to youth and children, and engages in advocacy to ensure that children participate in decision making.

Crisis Supports

Assistance is offered to homeless people and victims of exploitation, sexual abuse, family violence, and bullying. The Family Violence Info Line offers help to persons who are victims of stalking, neglect, and different forms of abuse, including sexual, financial, emotional, verbal, and physical. Emergency financial assistance is also available to people who seek to leave abusive relationships or situations. People living in Alberta qualify provided that they are permanent residents, Canadian citizens, refugee claimants, or refugees. Funding is available to cover eligible expenses such as short-time stays in a motel or hotel, emergency transportation, and items and services not offered by shelters, including eye and dental care, childcare, and prescription drugs. Other eligible expenses include extended health coverage, shelter, clothing and food, damage deposit, and transportation to get legal advice or counseling.

The provincial abuse helpline can be contacted to help a child or adult who is a victim of neglect or abuse. There are also emergency shelters for families and individuals seeking to escape abusive situations. Three types of emergency shelters offer accommodation in Alberta – seniors' emergency shelters, women's second stage housing, and women's emergency shelters. Homeless persons are offered accommodation, financial support, and addiction and mental help support.

Other Services and Supports

Services and assistance are offered to people with disabilities, seniors, and people in care. Persons with disabilities are entitled to receive financial assistance under different programs, including the Residential Access Modification Program and Aids to Daily Living. Seniors are also entitled to receive financial assistance in the form of property tax deferral, eye care, dental, and health benefits, and special needs assistance. Senior Albertans with low incomes are also offered financial assistance. Seniors living in long-term care or supportive living facilities are eligible to receive the Supplementary Accommodation Benefit to cover costs such as cable, telephone, personal hygiene items. People in care are offered services and information to help them adequately support incapable family members. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee helps minors and adults who receive financial assistance to manage their benefits. The office also offers help in the form of supported decision making, trusteeship, adult guardianship, co-decision-making, and specific decision-making. Employment, housing, and financial assistance are also offered to low-income persons and families, including emergency assistance, the Alberta Child Benefit, and Alberta Adult Health Benefit. There more financial options for people who need support.

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Suicide Prevention in Alberta

Suicide is one of the major causes of death in Alberta, and prevention has a key role to play. In fact, this is the second leading cause among young Albertans, and more people die by suicide compared to homicides and vehicle collisions.

Who Is at Risk?

Persons at risk are those with health conditions and mental health problems, people in jail or prison, and persons with a family history of suicide, substance abuse, or mental health disorders. Sexual and physical abuse and family violence are also risk factors. Persons at risk are also those with mental conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and depression. People who face legal, financial, or relationship problems are also at a higher risk and so are those with previous suicide attempts.

There are warning signs to watch for and help prevent suicidal attempts. Red flags include mood swings, rage, feeling isolated and lonely, sleeping too much or too little, and drug and alcohol abuse. Reckless behavior, anxiousness, withdrawal from activities, and talking about suicide are also warning signs. People who are at risk display moods and emotions such as anger and agitation, shame, loss of interest, and humiliation. They usually talk about feeling trapped or being burden to others and wanting to die. In such cases, it is important to watch for extreme mood swings and changes in behavior and look for help.

Where to Look for Help

Different organizations, centres, shelters, and helplines are available to provide support and counseling. They also offer advice and information about hospital care, medical treatments, therapies, and medications. Forums and support groups also help people deal with anxiety, stress, grief, and loss.

Help and Support in Alberta

Calling the Mental Health Help Line or Health Link is one way to get help and emotional support. Attempted suicide is an emergency, and it is best to call 911 in such cases. Text and chat services are also available in Alberta and are offered by Wood’s Homes and Distress Centre Calgary. There are several options to get emotional support at Wood’s Homes – walk-in, live chat, call, and text. The centre offers live-in treatment and crisis counseling services, assessments, and specialized therapies. The Eastside Family Centre offers walk-in counseling to individuals, couples, and families and help with relationship problems, stress, and mental health issues. The Community Resource Team at Wood’s Homes also offers support to individuals and families of all ages. The team specializes in suicide assessment and offers brief crisis support. Shelters for young people in crisis are found in Fort McMurray and Lethbridge. The shelter in Lethbridge offers referrals, counseling, bed, clothing, and food. The Distress Centre Calgary also offers community and social services, crisis counseling, 24/7 support, and teen peer support. Professional counseling is available to families, couples, and individuals facing a crisis situation. Drop-in counseling is also available on working days, and 24/7 support is offered free of charge in more than 200 languages. Chat is available through the ConnecTeen Online Chat and Online Crisis Chat. ConnecTeen offers support by text, online chat, and phone. Professional help is also available to people at risk, including persons with serious issues such as drug overdose, bulling, abuse, self-harm, and suicide. Professionals offer support to people who feel depressed, lonely, disappointed, stressed, or worried.

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