2023 Annual Report



Patient Spotlight

Patient Spotlight

The state of mental health • 87,000 Calgarians seek help for mental health issues each year • 20,000 Calgarians require emergency and/or inpatient care at one of Calgary’s four adult acute care hospitals • There are 21,000-23,000 Emergency Department (ED) visits in Calgary each year for which the primary presenting problem is a mental health concern While Eve can’t say enough about the great care she received, it took her a very long time to get over the shame of her experience. She didn’t talk about that night with anyone – not her family or her friends. But with a new focus on trauma-informed spaces being developed in emergency and across mental health care in Calgary, and the reduced stigma around mental health, Eve is ready to tell her story so that the long, cold and lonely hallway that she walked can be steps towards hope and healing for others. “I want this experience to be restoring of dignity for anyone that needs it, not something that takes it away,” says Eve about the passion she has for this project. “These steps are a light to the journey ahead and people should not be afraid to take them.”

because she was so fragile at birth. Eve’s pregnancy was so complicated and risky she had been terrified every day. And Eve went into a place darker and darker as she stared at pills and thought about ending her life until her husband pulled her out. The next night, when the walls started closing in and the darkness prevailing, Eve called her therapist and was immediately referred to the Emergency Room. “I’m so sorry, Eve,” said the triage nurse. “But we need to keep you safe.” As she moved down the hall, Eve began to question if she had made the right decision. “I felt so ashamed to be there, like I was a prisoner and I had done something wrong. At the same time my environment didn’t match the care I was receiving. Everyone was so caring and supportive and yet I felt in more despair than when I had walked in,” recalls Eve. “I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had to stay longer than I did, or if my family wasn’t with me and I had to face it alone. The magnitude of my situation came as a hard realization and I was doing everything I could to get out of there.”

Trauma-informed principles to support mental health needs

The result is a calming, therapeutic setting where patients feel their pain is acknowledged, they are valued and empowered, and stigma is decreased.

Trauma-informed Design (TiD) is a new way of thinking about the needs of people experiencing psychological distress and how the built environment can be tailored to facilitate calm and healing. Integrating knowledge from psychology, neuroscience,

physiology and cultural factors, trauma-informed spaces reduce and remove adverse stimuli and environmental stresses to create a sense of real and perceived safety, and instill a sense of respect, connection, community, control, and dignity.

Following best practices* there are the four key assumptions in a trauma informed approach:

•  Realizing how the physical environment effects an individual’s sense of identity, worth, dignity, and empowerment.

• Recognizing that the physical environment has an impact on attitude, mood, and behavior, and that there is a strong link between our physiological state, our emotional state, and the physical environment.

• Responding by designing and maintaining supportive and healing environments for trauma-experienced clients or patients to resist re- traumatization.

Philanthropy allows for spaces designed to meet the medical needs of patients to be transformed under TiD to support the medical and mental health needs of patients.

* SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach manual (October 2014)

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