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In partnership with community funding partners, the city announced Wednesday afternoon the second round of new ideas that will be tested as fast-pilots to find better and quicker ways to address mental health and addiction issues in Calgary.

These ideas are to be funded through Change Can’t Wait! which is part of the Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction that was launched last year.

Contribution from community organizations has helped to allocate over $500,000 through Change Can’t Wait!.

One of the leading advocates of the need to address mental health and addiction issues is Karen Gosbee, whose husband George, the former owner of the Arizona Coyotes, had mental health and addiction issues. Gosbee took his own life in 2017.

"I felt completely hopeless," Karen said, in a video posted on the City of Calgary's website. "I couldn't navigate the system. I didn't know what the resources were out there." Gosbee said she became so exhausted from trying to deal with her husband's situation at home, that she would end up calling Emergency.

That prompted her to speak to Mayor Nenshi.

"I said, all these resources are out there," she said. "They just need to be elevated. It needs to be very clear - and let's do this for Calgary."

Gosbee is the Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction Stewardship Group Co-Chair.

"Calgarians have been asked to deal with a lot in 2020," said Nenshi. "Even before the pandemic, we were in the middle of a mental health and addictions crisis. Fortunately, this is Calgary, where great ideas and community support are two things that are never in short supply. The partners who make up the Community Investment Table have partnered with the city to enable 16 more fast-pilot projects to get off the ground and begin helping people now."

Community organizations helped fund selected fast-pilot projects by adding a combined $275,000 towards the second round of Change Can’t Wait!.

Along with the city, five organizations form the Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction, Community Investment Table, including The Calgary Foundation, Calgary Health Trust, the Hunter Family Foundation, the United Way of Calgary and Area, and the Viewpoint Foundation.

177 ideas were submitted to the second round of Change Can't Wait! and 16 of those projects were selected for funding.

“There are many complex factors that contribute to people’s mental illness and addiction," said Gosbee. "So, this time, we've focused on funding on ideas that will help reduce stigma and build community resiliency.”

Funded projects launch this month and have 120 days to demonstrate results.

"We get the final report in January. 120 may seem very fast to get something going and tested out, but we know fast-pilot projects are an efficient way to deliver solutions, and implementation can start with limited resources scale up once there is enough evidence," Gobee said.

To view the full list of funded projects visit: https://www.calgary.ca/csps/cns/mental-health-and-addiction.html