The Power of a Supportive Community

Shawn has struggled with mental illness most of his adult life. His continuing 16-year journey with bipolar depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has led him to access many of the resources available through the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital and Addictions & Mental Health Outreach Services. He has been a frequent patient in the hospital’s Psychiatric Inpatient Unit (Addictions & Mental Health) and continues to receive regular outpatient treatments for his condition.

His story below is one many others can relate to.

“My interactions with our local healthcare system range from the EMS responders who answer the call during my darkest crisis, the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) who assess and admit me, to the crisis team – I am taken seriously. My mental health issues are treated with the same urgency as any other patient seeking assistance from the hospital’s ED. I generally find myself a room in 5 North within a short period of time. At this point, my family breathes a sigh of relief. Although fear dominated my first admission, there are many misconceptions about being treated for mental health issues in the hospital. After years of treatment by AHS staff, we have now come to describe my bed as being located in “the safest room in the city.”

After my immediate crisis has somewhat subsided, I am invited by nursing staff to settle into the routines of the ward. Security, maintenance staff, and countless other normally invisible faces suddenly become visible. I realize that they are working quietly for me. Without them, the care provided by many others involved in my treatment would be impossible.

After an initial assessment, a plan is developed for my particular needs. During this process, I feel that my concerns are taken seriously and that I have opportunities for input. Nursing staff monitor and counsel me while ensuring that the treatment plan is followed. They always seem to be there when I need them.

The Recreation Program offered through Addictions & Mental Health Outreach plays an important role in my treatment. The staff offer extensive contact time on and off the unit, and continuity with them over the years has proven to be a major factor in the success of my long-term treatment plan. The same staff members who see me at my worst on the ward also see me in the community amongst my peers. They witness the progress I am making towards independence, and they provide a setting for peer support.

I believe that my chances of living a more meaningful life are improved greatly in a caring environment such as the one provided for mental health treatment in Medicine Hat. I can only hope that others less familiar with this system come to recognize its value as I do.”


For nearly two years, the Medicine Hat Health Foundation has dealt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, doing everything we can to keep our region healthy and safe. Community donations have been crucial in this, providing the resources and stability we need to succeed.

Our position at the front lines has given us a unique glimpse at another strain to our healthcare system – one that may not be as visible on the surface but is just as widespread and important. All around southeastern Alberta, people are suffering from mental health challenges. You can help us enhance mental health supports.

Your donation to our Giving Hope for Mental Health campaign will help ensure our healthcare professionals have the infrastructure and fundamentals in place to provide the best possible care for those in need. Among much else, this includes new beds for inpatients, giving people like Shawn a place to heal and feel safe.

Donate to Mental Health