Navigating Mental Health Services in Calgary: A Mental Health Week Panel


On May 3, 2022, during CMHA’s Mental Health Week, CMHA Calgary hosted “Navigating Mental Health Services in Calgary: A Mental Health Week Panel.” Each year 1.6 million Canadians report unmet mental health care needs, and the demand for services has escalated due to the pandemic (Mental Health Commission of Canada, March 2017). The mental health effects of COVID-19 – including anxiety, depression, suicidal thought, and substance use – will last long after the pandemic has subsided.

We were joined for a conversation with Sara Jordan, Executive Director CMHA Calgary, Robyn Romano, Chief Executive Officer of Distress Centre Calgary, Vanessa McConnell, Director, Family Mental Health & Social Inclusion of Kindred (formerly Catholic Family Service), Hyder Hassan, Chief Executive Officer of Immigrant Services Calgary, and Karen Young, President and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area, as they discussed navigating the mental health sector within Calgary and surrounding areas, the challenges, solutions, and expectations of those accessing services.

Highlights of the panel can be found below.

Sara Jordan | Executive Director, CMHA Calgary

CMHA Calgary’s Executive Director, Sara Jordan, shares the results of CMHA National’s and UBC’s COVID-19 Impacts survey using a small sample size of the population, but resulted in large evidence of grief and loss among Canadians.

Robyn Romano | Chief Executive Officer, Distress Centre Calgary

Chief Executive Officer, Robyn Romano of Distress Centre Calgary uses the analogy of a power grid to showcase and portray how the complexities of mental health navigation should be as easy and accessible as turning on a light switch.

Hyder Hassan | Chief Executive Officer, Immigrant Services Calgary

Chief Executive Officer, Hyder Hassan, of Immigrant Services Calgary tells the story of how a phone call from a Calgary citizen prompted his change of leading the Immigrant Services organization. He also speaks about how many services are provided with just one personalized, individual plan offered in Gateway – a newcomer onboarding program for those coming to live in the city.

Karen Young | President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way Calgary and Area

President and Chief Executive Officer, Karen Young of United Way Calgary and Area discusses the community impact that United Way has created, as well as discuss the introduction of Planet Youth, a drug prevention model created for children and youth.

Vanessa McConnell | Family Mental Health & Social Inclusion Director, Kindred (formerly Catholic Family Service)

Family Mental Health & Social Inclusion Director, Vanessa McConnell, of Kindred (formerly Catholic Family Service) talks about the inception of Community Connect YYC ( and how this online platform is a one-stop shop for Calgarians to receive social supports from local initiatives.


Our Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at We have teamed up with other Calgary agencies to help Calgarians quickly and easily access various counselling and social supports. Visit, where you can book online for our Suicide Bereavement and Family Support Counselling, and other supports. If you prefer to still book through us, please phone (403-297-1708), or email (