This page is for informational purposes only. If you are experiencing a health emergency, please seek medical attention.
Mental health support
Getting to know your mental health
If you would like to learn more about your own mental health or how to support a loved one—you’re in the right place.
As your daily life shifts so does your mental health. Getting the support you need will help build resiliency and capacity to face whatever life throws at you. Navigating your mental health is of the utmost importance and recognizing the shift from regular ups and downs to a possible mental illness is vital.
Getting to know your mental health
If you would like to learn more about your own mental health or how to support a loved one—you're in the right place!
As your daily life shifts so does your mental health. Connecting to resources and getting the support you need will help build resiliency and capacity to face whatever life throws at you. Navigating your mental health is of the utmost importance and recognizing the shift from regular ups and downs to a possible mental illness is vital.
Please be aware, this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is suffering from a critical mental health event, call 911 immediately. The following help lines can also be accessed as additional support.
Emergency mental health supports
By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.1
Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.1
In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.1
What is mental health and wellness
Mental health and wellness affects how you think, feel and act—encompassing your emotional, psychological and social well-being.2
Mental health ranges from feeling good some days, bad others and everything in between. When you have a good day, you may feel as if you have a sense of purpose, can manage life’s highs and lows and enjoy life. When you have a bad day or are suffering from a mental illness, you can experience changes to these feelings.
If you, or someone you know, is concerned about their mental health, it is important to know these challenges are common and you are not alone. People often don't get the help they need because they don't know where to start.
What is mental illness?
We all have mental health and can experience highs and lows but when does it become mental illness?
Mental illness can be defined as changes to a person's thoughts, moods, feelings and behaviours that cause distress or reduce a person's ability to function. Signs and symptoms can present differently from person to person and may depend on genetics, the type of mental illness and the person's environment.
Mental illness encompasses a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and many others. But once recognized, help can make a difference for 80 per cent of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.3
The following resources provide an in-depth index with information on multiple mental illnesses and how to navigate them or provide support to loved ones.
Are you an Alberta Blue Cross® member?
Learn more about the different types of mental illness and how to navigate them by signing in to Balance®, our online wellness program. There you’ll have access to multiple learn and earns on a variety of mental health topics.Go to Balance®
Addiction is a complex topic and can be difficult to talk about. It refers to any behaviour that interferes with a person's life, such as excessive use of a particular substance like alcohol or drugs, gambling or internet addiction. Addiction and mental illness can be directly or indirectly linked as both can affect your mood, thinking or behaviour. Compared to the general population people with a mental illness are twice as likely to experience a substance use problem.3
Addiction often includes the presence of four unique factors:
- a craving,
- a loss of control over a behaviour,
- a compulsion to use, and
- the neglect of consequences.
Craving, control, compulsion and consequences are termed the four C's of addiction.4 If you experience any of these four factors when engaging in a specific behaviour it can be a sign to reach out for support or talk to a health care professional. The following resources can help you or a loved one navigate addiction and get the support you need.
An addiction recovery program or service in Alberta that provides online, confidential treatment and tools to help you find a program or service that best fits your needs.
Call 1-866-332-2322 (toll free) to speak to a health care professional for confidential one-on-one support, information or a referral to an addiction program or service.
Offers a variety of supports available to help you quit smoking, including virtual group sessions, one-on-one support over the phone or helpful tips via text message. Sign up online to join virtual QuitCore group sessions, call 1-866-710-7848 to chat with a trained Quit Counsellor or text ABQUITS to 123456 to receive advice and tips.
Alberta Blue Cross® member resources
ALAViDA internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT)
Access an evidence-based iCBT program designed to help individuals struggling in their relationship with alcohol or other substances. The confidential program includes a personalized learning plan, self-guided educational content and the ability to connect with an ALAViDA therapist.
Are you an Alberta Blue Cross® member?
The ALAViDA TRAiL Premium program may be a reimbursable expense under your Alberta Blue Cross® plan for you and your dependents (age 18 and over). Learn more about ALAViDA.
Understanding your mental health
Your mental health is not static and can change as you navigate everyday life.
It’s possible to shift from feeling good one day and worse the next depending on the circumstances–we are all susceptible. The opposite also holds true.
Here are some free resources you can use to assess your mental health.
Please be aware these are just tools to provide you with insights on your mental health but should not be used as an official diagnosis.
Resilience, balance, self-actualization and flexibility are all characteristics that make up good mental health. Use this tool to gain a better understanding of your overall mental health.
This nine-question mental health screening helps to determine how many common symptoms of depression you have experienced over the last two weeks.
Determine if you have experienced symptoms of anxiety in the last two weeks by answering these seven questions.
Alberta Blue Cross® member resources
Assess and track your mental health and well-being with the Health Risk Assessment tool on Balance® where you can enter information such as family history, blood pressure, lifestyle and exercise habits to receive an overall health rating.
Youth mental health
The pandemic has impacted the mental health of all Canadians, but Canada's youth have experienced the greatest declines.5
Since COVID-19, the percentage of youth reporting very good mental health has dropped from 60% to 40%.5
70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.3
An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness—yet, less than 20% will receive appropriate treatment.6
Adolescence can be a difficult time for many young people. In addition to physical, emotional and social changes, you may experience other stressors like peer pressure, wanting to feel independent, navigating social media and more. These experiences can sometimes have a negative impact on your mental health and there might be times when you need some extra support.
Understanding and expressing your emotions in a healthy way can help you to manage life’s stress and have a long-lasting, positive impact. Reaching out to talk to someone when you need help is another important part of taking care of your whole self.
Use the resources below to navigate your mental health journey. Whether you are looking for more information on mental health or help from others, you are not alone.
Visit mykickstand.ca to access mental health tools specifically designed for youth as well as information on body image, substance use, life skills and more.
What services and resources are available to support my mental health?
Support for mental health varies based on an individual's needs. The following is a list of services and resources for both Alberta Blue Cross® plan members and non-members across Alberta and includes links to therapy and counselling services as well as 24/7 support and distress lines, daily text supports and more.
Alberta blue cross® member resources
Easily access our health look-up tool through our member site or app to determine what benefits are available to you on your plan, which could include
- psychology and counselling services,
- internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT),
- the Employee family Assistance Program (EFAP) or
- Individual Assistance Program (IAP).
Take the next step in your mental health and wellness journey by signing in to Balance®, our online wellness program. Balance® can help you understand the areas related to mental health where you may be at risk and direct you to supports that will align with your needs best.
Available on the member site or app, the drug look-up tool helps you determine what drug coverage is available to you on your plan.
The Alberta Healthy Living Program provides workshops and education sessions led by various health care professionals for those over the age of 18. Services may include information, education, techniques and support to help improve your health and quality of life with a chronic condition.
Having a family doctor can assist you in providing ongoing management and support.
Your local Primary Care Network offers a range of free classes and workshops on stress, anxiety, depression and caregiver burnout.
Phone and distress lines
Call if you think a child is being abused or neglected by a parent or guardian.
Help for anyone experiencing family violence or abuse, or who knows someone that has questions about family violence.
A directory of local crisis centres, including many that offer phone support.
Counselling and peer support services (in-person and online)
Individual and group counselling services and programs with sliding scale fees based on income.
Free drop-in psychological counselling services.
Counselling, group treatment and resources to reduce incidents of family violence.
Mental health triage centre that helps individuals who cannot pay or wait for aid through the traditional health care system.
Peer support meetings in Calgary and Edmonton.
Free accessible support, resources and counselling available online or through a mobile app (PocketWell).
Stay connected through online peer support.
Free text messaging service offered in multiple languages that gives subscribers hope and encourgaement that gives subscribers hope and encouragement in support of their mental health.
Database of crisis hotlines across the country.
A free program designed for adults and youth to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress and worry.
A free evidence-based app designed by Anxiety Canada to help you learn relaxation techniques, develop more effective ways of thinking and take active steps to manage anxiety.
Volunteer psychologists offering one to three pro-bono sessions for individuals impacted by the genocidal legacy of Indian Residential Schools, and for Alberta health care providers, and for first responders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit their website or call toll-free 1-888-424-0297.
Resources to help you deal with the increased stress and anxiety caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Access tips on how to promote mental wellness during uncertain times, manage financial stress caused by COVID-19 as well as grief, loss and more.
Family and caregiver support
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All information, content, and material contained on this website (including links to other third-party websites) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice on any subject matter, or for any individual case or situation. Nothing on this website is intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional, and you should not act, or refrain from acting, on the basis of any content included on this website. If you require medical advice, you are advised to consult a qualified medical professional.
 Canadian Mental Health Association. Fast Facts about Mental Illness. Available at: https://cmha.ca/fast-facts-about-mental-illness.
 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. What is Mental Health? Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health.
 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics. Available at: https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics.
 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Addiction. Available at: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/addiction.
 Statistic Canada. Impacts on Mental Health. Available at: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-631-x/2020004/s3-eng.htm.
 Mental Health Commission of Canada. Children and Youth. Available at: https://mentalhealthcommission.ca/what-we-do/children-and-youth/.