Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program is moving

The following is taken, verbatim, from a bulletin board posting found on May 31st, 2007, in the Purdy Building:

The Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program is moving ......
(From The Nova Scotia Hospital site)

You have probably heard we are moving! Yes, it's true! Our offices are being relocated to:

The Abbie J. Lane Memorial Building
5909 Veterans' Memorial Lane
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 2E2

There is no definite date yet.
(we expect it will likely occur by September 2007)
When more details are available we will pass them on to you.

We will make every effort to ensure your care is not interrupted, and we will continue to work hard to make sure convenient appointments are made available to you.

If you have any questions, please ask your clinician or call 464-5997

Saturday, May 26, 2007


By Jon David Welland

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a village to care for the ill and the disabled. The social footprint of any disability includes not only family and friends but also the professionals of all stripes who contribute to their care. Mental illness is a disability, in this and many other important ways. This social footprint causes a shift in the family dynamic of those who are affected. It is moving us away from the “nuclear family” whose family unit consists of a husband, wife and their children. When children reach a certain age they are expected to leave home in hopes of creating another similar unit on their own. This model had its start in the nineteen fifties, which had a high standard of living and a prosperous economy. During the depression however, people lived in “extended families”, where two or three generations lived under the same roof and the neighbours would often share in many of their duties.

The community has a powerful role in the treatment and recovery of anyone suffering from a mental illness, and they will never become well in a community that does accept and tolerate them. They cannot remain outcasts from the village; they are your friends, your family. You see them every day on the bus, in the malls and on the street, and you wouldn’t know most of them were mentally from looking at them. They used to be hidden away in hospitals, never to see the light of day, but things have changed.

Institutions first began closing their doors out of economic necessity; because housing people in hospitals was very expensive, but there were very few supports in place in the community for these individuals, causing some serious social problems. “Psychiatric Ghettos” sprung up around the hospitals, filled with patients from all over the district, who had been tossed out and who were forced to fend for themselves.

Supports were eventually created, like free clinics, drug plans and affordable housing. This was also out of economic necessity, since the cost of these services was still much less than the cost of warehousing people in institutions.

Hospitalization became even more unnecessary when effective medications were developed to treat the symptoms of mental illness with fewer side effects and less chance of a relapse. Their struggle is now to find acceptance and a place in the community. They now have a chance to contribute to the society that supports them. They have a chance to lead normal lives.

However, there is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental illness. Housing programs have been struggling against the attitude of “not in our backyard”. People accept the need for housing, but don’t want it in their neighbourhood. There have been protests, petitions and demonstrations; even city aldermen have gotten into the act. The best way to fight this stigma is through public education about the facts of mental illness.

We refuse to be driven out of our homes.

Photograph by Brendel.

How to Foster Continuity of Care

From Psychiatric News, May 18, 2007, Volume 42, Number 10, page 19:

The following are recommendations from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare on helping people with serious mental illness continue to receive treatment after their discharge from inpatient care:
  • Hospitals and community-based organizations should collaborate more closely with one another. This may include standardization of information and shared electronic health records.

  • Providers and mental health organizations should use treatment-performance standards as part of a quality-improvement approach that can enhance treatment continuity.

  • All mental health consumers should receive care management for transition from hospital to community; care-management services should be reimbursable by all payers, and the disincentives to providing them should be removed.

  • Mental health agencies should focus on the "pull model" of transition from inpatient to outpatient care, which emphasizes involving community-based providers in the transition process.

  • Accreditation standards should be aligned to address and improve continuity of therapy in treating mental illness.

  • Consumers and their families should be educated about the benefits of maintaining their medical histories, whether through written logs or portable electronic devices.

  • Consumer-driven recovery planning should include the appropriate use of hospitalization. More thoughtful use of inpatient services can lead to a reduction in emergency-room use and a decrease in number of hospitalizations.

  • Payers who collect data about mental health services and performance should share the data with appropriate stakeholders to enhance the provision of care.

  • Consumers and mental health advocates should be involved in all levels of system delivery and evaluation. Examples include using peer specialists as part of a treatment team and involving them in the development and implementation of performance-evaluation measures.

Americans' Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment Seeking: 1990–2003

Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured), writes in the May 2007 issue of Psychiatric Services:

Mental health treatment seeking has become more acceptable over the past decade, and perceived stigma associated with it has declined. These changes in public attitudes have likely contributed to the growing demand for mental health services in the United States and will continue to do so in the coming years.
Also visit this article in Psychiatric Times.

Seven recent newspaper articles

The first.

The second.

The third.

Photograph of Jon Welland by Andre Forget and courtesy of the Halifax Daily News (see the third article for story).

The fourth.

The fifth.

The sixth.

The seventh.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Speech by The Hon. Michael Kirby

The Hon. Michael Kirby is chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. For the full text of a speech he made to the Empire Club of Canada on May 17, 2007, click here.

It was awful

Click on the arrow to start the video.

Liz Spikol is managing editor of Philadelphia Weekly. She writes the award-winning column "The Trouble With Spikol," which began as a chronicle of her struggle with mental illness, and has since expanded into humorous musings on everything from graphic novels to how to use a mop.

Her blog is entitled The Trouble with Spikol.

To view more of Ms. Spikol's YouTube videos click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Health Canada Warning: Recall of Two Valproic Acid Drugs, Depakene 500 mg and Ratio-Valproic 500 mg

For individuals taking Epival:

OTTAWA (May 11, 2007) - Health Canada is warning patients taking the anti-epilepsy medications Depakene 500 mg and ratio-VALPROIC 500 mg that they may not be getting the full dose of the active drug, which could result in inadequate treatment of their seizures. These products are being recalled and patients using Depakene 500 mg and ratio-VALPROIC ECC 500 mg (valproic acid) are advised to contact their physician or pharmacist immediately to obtain another suitable product. Patients should not discontinue their medication before consulting their health care provider.

If seizures are not adequately treated, patients are at risk of increasing number and frequency of seizures and of related complications, including injury from falls, injury from a seizure while driving or operating machinery, or inhalation of fluid into the lungs and aspiration pneumonia.

ABBOTT Laboratories Limited is recalling Depakene 500 mg and ratiopharm Inc. is recalling ratio-VALPROIC 500 mg. The capsules may not disintegrate properly; as a result, a lesser amount of the active ingredient may be released. Consumers who have purchased either of these products should return their product to their pharmacist.

Consumers requiring more information about this advisory can contact Health Canada's public enquiries line at (613) 957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

To report a suspected adverse reaction to this or any other health product, please contact the Canadian Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Program (CADRMP) of Health Canada by one of the following methods:

Telephone: 1-866-234-2345
Facsimile: 1-866-678-6789

Marketed Health Products Directorate
Tunney's Pasture, AL 0701C

The CADRMP adverse reaction reporting form, including a version that can be completed and submitted online, is located on the MedEffect portal of the Health Canada Web site. (

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Distal support and community living among individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder

The following is the abstract of a paper published, by researchers at Yale University, in the March 1st issue of Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes:

Community integration for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia is essential to successful community tenure. Most of the research and clinical emphasis on the process of integration has been focused on the successes in normative goals (e.g., employment, support networks). Little research has focused on how individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder integrate in the realm of public life involving the casual routine interactions with other community members, termed "distal support" in this study. This was a cross-sectional study specifically designed to develop a measure of distal support and to identify clinical and sociodemographic factors associated with fostering distal supports.

Findings suggest that personality factors, specifically extroversion and openness, play a role in the process of fostering community distal supports. It was also found that a greater number of distal supports were associated with higher quality of life satisfaction ratings and sense of belonging scores with the participants who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. A greater number of distal supports were associated with higher hospitalization rates and emergency contacts among the participants diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, but not among those diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Independent Living Support Program to Undergo Expansion

The following was posted on the Eastern Views blog on March 26, 2007:

Nova Scotians living with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities and long-term mental illness, will soon benefit from an expanded government program.

Initiated in Cape Breton last January, the Independent Living Support Program will begin to serve clients in the northern counties of Guysborough, Antigonish, Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland at the end of the month and will expand to the rest of the province over the next year.

"This program will help people maintain their independence, while ensuring they have enough support to meet their daily needs," said Judy Streatch (pictured), Minister of Community Services. "We've targeted our programs to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities by offering varying levels of support."

The Independent Living Support program serves people who are semi-independent and need a minimum level of assistance to live on their own in the community. It provides up to 21 hours of weekly support, including help maintaining health and wellness, household chores, and accessing services in the community.

The Independent Living Support Program expansion and other new services were announced in December 2004, following extensive community consultation. The services include: Direct Family Support, providing financial assistance to people who care for a family member with a disability at home; the Alternative Family Support Program, which offers a family-like setting in the community. These new programs complement existing residential services already in place for people who need a higher level of care in the community.

For the related Nova Scotia Department of Community Services press release click here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Several Trends Shaping Future of Mental Health Care in U.S.

Rich Daly writes in the May 5th issue of Psychiatric News:
[A] report, "Mental Health, United States, 2004," was released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) in March [2007]. It aims to provide a snapshot of the federal government's understanding of current mental health services, trends, and statistics that affect the nearly 44 million Americans who suffer from a mental illness in any given year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Information Matters: Spring 2007

The latest issue of Information Matters, the quarterly newsletter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, is now available. Click here to view and/or download.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Walk Nova Scotia Challenge Reception

To walk the last 5K of the Walk Nova Scotia Challenge, members of the Lunenburg County Chapter participated in Park View Education Centre's Field of Dreams 5K Walk in Bridgewater.

Below are some photographs from the Walk Nova Scotia Challenge reception, held Sunday, May 6th, 2007, at the Girl Guide's Cabin in Bridgewater.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Just a Smile and a Hello on the Golden Gate Bridge

An article by Robert I. Simon, M.D., published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Photograph by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

Medical News TODAY

Click here for international coverage of the annonuncement of a new mission statement for all eleven schizophrenia societies in Canada.

Friday, May 4, 2007