An unprecedented gift of $5 million from the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation will change how young people and their families access mental health care in Alberta.

The money, pledged to the Mental Health Foundation, will help create community mental health hubs across the province to support youth aged 11-24.

“It’s really difficult for young people to ask for help for mental health issues,” said Katherine Hay, a program manager with Alberta Health Services. “This is going to create a very warm, welcoming, youth-friendly space where people can go and get all the services that they need in one particular place.”

Integrating the services in one place will make it easier for youth and their families to find the help and support they need. Representatives said coordinated services will be more effective and more efficient, improving the outcomes for young people across the province.

An estimated one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness throughout their lifetime, and more than 75 per cent of mental health issues happen before someone is 25 years old.