Thursday, January 31, 2008

Changing the Name Schizophrenia

From the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders:

The World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders is conducting a survey: Changing the Name Schizophrenia. The issue has been talked about for years and continues to crop up. It is an important time to ask this question, as the DSM is being reviewed (it will be published in 2012) and changing the name of schizophrenia is one of the items being considered. While it is a diagnostic and treatment-based decision, the impact is much broader than just diagnosis and treatment.

We need to add our voices to the debate, letting the reviewers know how family, people with the illness and other mental health professionals feel. We want to gather a broader range of opinions than is typically gathered when this question is posed - around the world and to all of the stakeholders, and also give people a chance to say 'this is important' or 'this is a waste of time'.

It will take just a few minutes to complete the survey. Simply click here.

Useful References

Renaming schizophrenia (2007)

Schizophrenia can and should be renamed (2007)

Change is required; but name or attitude?

Renaming schizophrenia: a Japanese perspective (2006)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Great Maritime Hockey Getaway

eBay Auction

Winning bid of $300 was made by Vicky MacLeod

Vicky MacLeod

This was a fundraiser for the Lunenburg County Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (LCC-SSNS). All items were donated and all the proceeds from this sale went to LCC-SSNS.

Vicky received:

  1. Four VIA Rail tickets; round trip between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick, valued at $492.48 (valid up until and including December 14, 2008 with the exception of Easter Weekend [not valid for travel Easter weekend from Thursday to Monday, inclusive]);
  2. $150 Holiday Inn Express Voucher (voucher expires December 31, 2008 - not valid July and August 2008);
  3. $100 Budget Rent A Car Voucher (voucher is valid until November 30, 2008, and car rentals can be at any Budget Car and Truck Rental location in Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Charlottetown, Sydney, Truro, Yarmouth, Bathurst, Halifax, or Dartmouth); and
  4. Two Special Guest Passes to any Moncton Wildcats Hockey Game during the 2007/2008 season (passes must be redeemed at the Coliseum Box Office for complimentary tickets 24 hours before the game).

Thank you to all who participated in the bidding!

A very special thank you to Via Rail Canada, Holiday Inn Express, Budget Rent A Car, and the Moncton Wildcats for their donations!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Schizophrenia Facts and Statistics

An excellent summary from To read the summary, click here.

We have moved!

The offices of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia are now located at:

Rooms B23 and B24, E.C. Purdy Building
300 Pleasant Street
P.O. Box 1004, Station Main
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 3Z9

Our telephone numbers remain the same:

Phone: (902) 465-2601
Toll-free in Nova Scotia: 1-800-465-2601
Fax: (902) 465-5479

Feel free to drop in for a visit!

We thank the Capital District Mental Health Program for their in-kind donation of office space.

The five SSNS office windows are circled in yellow in the above photograph (click the photograph to enlarge it).

Photograph by rwkphotos.

Mental Health Services, 2008 Calendar Project

The Nova Scotia Department of Health, Mental Health Services, is seeking submissions of works of visual art from women who have experienced or are experiencing a mood disorder (i.e. anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) and who live in Nova Scotia.

Artwork will be reproduced in a calendar to be published by the Department of Health to raise awareness of women and mood disorders and the issues for them at home and in the workplace.

Women whose artwork is selected for inclusion in the calendar receive a $150 honorarium.

To view the Project Poster, click here (downloads a PDF).

To view the Information and Submission Form, click here (PDF)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Healthy Living Series

Presented by
Cole Harbour Public Library and
Cole Harbour / Eastern HRM Mental Health Services

These education sessions are open to anyone interested and will be held Wednesdays from 7 pm to 9 pm at Cole Harbour Public Library.

For a complete listing of the upcoming sessions, click here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Online Support Groups for Family / Supporters

The BC Schizophrenia Society and the Mind Foundation (on behalf of BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information) are pleased to announce the launch of a series of new online support groups.

These support groups are for people caring for a loved one:
  • who is having difficulty coping with difficult thoughts, experiences or emotions, or
  • who may have a brain condition or mental illness affecting their thoughts emotions or behaviour.
The online groups are anonymous, private and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are three groups in the series. All groups are moderated. To go directly to the support groups, click here.

(NOTE: you will need to register [click on the register link] to view or post in the family support forums. You will need to provide your email address to register but no one other than our moderators will be able to see it.)

Focus on Families

From the January 2008 issue of Psychiatric Services:
Three articles in this month's issue address the important role of families in the lives of people with severe mental illness. Amy N. Cohen, Ph.D., and colleagues report on the Family Forum, a 2006 conference sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 40 researchers, providers, and administrators who attended the forum identified challenges to implementing family psychoeducation and reached a consensus on how best to move forward with new approaches (page 40).

In the second article Susan A. Pickett-Schenk, Ph.D., and her coauthors compare outcomes of 231 family members who participated in Journey of Hope, an eight-week family-led psychoeducation program, and 231 family members assigned to a waiting list. Program participants' gains in knowledge and coping skills were significantly higher and were maintained at six months (page 49).

In the third report Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., M.S.W., and Jan S. Greenberg, Ph.D., present results of a survey of 136 siblings of adults with schizophrenia. Their findings indicate that early-intervention programs with families that focus on the needs of siblings may have lifelong positive effects on the quality of the sibling bond (page 57).

More Prescribing Decisions to Be Guided by Genetic Tests

An article published in the January 18th edition of Psychiatric News:
By Jun Yan

Genetic discoveries, which are continuing to reveal why different people react to the same drug differently, are beginning to influence personalized drug therapy.
To read the entire article, click here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Parasite May Lead to Schizophrenia

Thursday, Jan. 17 (Psych Central) -- An amazing new finding suggests a common parasite carried by animals may increase the risk of schizophrenia.

Toxoplasma gondii parasite, an organism carried by carried by cats and farm animals was found to increase the risk of schizophrenia by 24 percent among individuals.

To read the entire article, click here.

Image provided by Ke Hu and John Murray.

The Residence is more than a place to live.

A story from the January 18th edition of The Ledger:
The Residence is one of a handful of assisted-living facilities in Polk County that specialize in providing a home for people who have illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
To view the video, click here.

To read the entire story, click here.

To read the entire series of articles on Matters of the Mind: The Effects of Mental Illness click here.

Photograph: Rick Runion | The Ledger

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Provincial Health Services Operational Review (PHSOR)

To read the Provincial Health Services Operational Review (PHSOR) released today, click here.

Quoted below is what the PHSOR says about mental health services (pages 20 and 21):
Mental health services are delivered throughout the Province either in a combined district model or through individual DHAs. This service is handicapped by limited resources and a provincial mental health response that is in development, but remains disjointed. Efforts to improve mental health services are underway. The PHSOR identifies a number of themes that support the need for extensive redevelopment of mental health services, including:
  • Access to both community-based supports and acute inpatient services is limited. Shortages of community-based services increase the reliance on acute services. Conversely, bed utilization and inability to discharge are common issues due to limited community programs and hospitalization. There is insufficient community housing, few community groups and resources, little long term rehabilitation and a lack of geriatric assessment units and senior mental health programs. These issues are particularly difficult for patients who cannot access services within their own DHA.
  • Access to mental health professionals is limited. There are few psychiatrists outside the larger urban centres. The same is true for many other mental health professionals, e.g., psychologists. Emergency response teams are inadequate to compensate for and meet crisis care needs for most communities. The issues are exacerbated by transportation challenges between healthcare providers and patients, reflecting the geographic realities in Nova Scotia.
  • Pharmaceutical interventions are often costly and limited Pharmacare coverage for prescription drugs encourages non-compliance to prescribed treatments.
  • Limited integration and communication between government departments and within the DOH interrupts the continuum of care. There is a need for greater planning with the Department of Community Services to provide appropriate supported housing. In addition, patients with concurrent disorders are not well supported due to infrastructure and longstanding stigmas attached to service providers, e.g., mental health and addiction services. Finally, the mental health needs within aboriginal communities are not being addressed adequately and require stronger linkages between provincial and federal jurisdictions.

10. That the Department of Health lead a process with the DHAs/IWK to complete a focused review of mental health services including, but not limited to: a health human resource strategy for mental health professionals; a provincial bed analysis to determine how many beds are needed in the Province and where those beds should be (fewer sites for inpatient programs may need to be considered to alleviate the pressure that is currently being experienced regarding recruitment and retention of staff to support the inpatient units); necessary linkages across the continuum; and Province-wide strategies for program prioritization, growth and development (e.g., seniors’ mental health services).

11. That the Department of Health work with the DHAs/IWK to identify options to increase available funding for community and outpatient mental health services, to reduce unnecessary inpatient stays.

12. That the Department of Health continue to enhance collaboration across government departments by engaging the Department of Community Services and other governmental partners as appropriate in transformation activities related to mental health, at both the provincial and DHAs/IWK levels.

News Release: Province Accepts All Health System Review Recommendations

Department of Health
January 17, 2008 14:17

The province is taking action on recommendations from a provincial health system operational review to make Nova Scotia's health-care system more effective, efficient and sustainable for all Nova Scotians, now and in the future.

The government announced today, Jan. 17, that all 103 recommendations made by Corpus Sanchez International in the report titled Changing Nova Scotia's Health Care System: Creating Sustainability Through Transformation have been accepted and will begin to be implemented over the next three years.

"A thriving health-care system is critical to the future of Nova Scotia," said Premier Rodney MacDonald. "With the information in this report, we are ready to chart a path that will ensure our health-care system is safe, accessible appropriate, effective and efficient for generations to come."

The recommendations outlined in the report cover every aspect of the health-care system. It notes Nova Scotia's system is heavily focused hospital-based care, which is the most expensive way to deliver health-care services. It recommends a focus on community-based care, and restructuring across the system.

"Nova Scotians need and deserve a health-care system that supports all of their health-care needs, whether it is staying healthy, living with chronic disease, or end of life care," said Health Minister Chris d'Entremont.

The report was developed with input from thousands of health-care providers and interested groups, from every hospital across the province. It notes factors such as an aging population, poor health status of Nova Scotians, increasing demand for health services, health human resource challenges, and the cost of maintaining the system as reasons why the system must change to continue to meet the changing health needs of Nova Scotians.

"As health system leaders, we support the vision of transformation that focuses on quality and safety. In order for the health-care system to be truly sustainable, we must broaden our focus from the treatment of illness, to include maintaining and improving health, in partnership with our citizens," said Dr. Brendan Carr, vice-president of medicine, Capital District Health Authority.

In its response to the report, the province has outlined actions for four key areas: helping people stay healthy; addressing changing needs of seniors; supporting health professionals; and investing for better results. Specific initiatives include establishing a selfcare/telecare phone line for 24/7 health advice, establishing a health human resource strategy, reviewing pharmacy and laboratory services, improving the flow of patients throughout the hospital system, and the use of non-clinical support services.

"I am particularly excited to note that we will be engaging citizens in consultation on the development of a rural health strategy for the province, which will include addressing the issue of emergency health care," said Mr. d'Entrement. "As patients, caregivers and taxpayers, we all have a role to play in ensuring we have the best health-care system possible -- not only for ourselves, but for generations of Nova Scotians."

The Provincial Health Services Operational Review, an executive summary of the report, the province's response document and fact sheets about Nova Scotia's health-care system are available online at


The province is taking action on all 103 recommendations from a provincial health system operational review.

The recommendations will help make the health-care system more effective, efficient and sustainable for all Nova Scotians.

Premier Rodney MacDonald says with the information in the report, the province is ready to chart a path to ensure the health-care system is safe, accessible, appropriate, effective and efficient for generations to come.

The report says factors such as an aging population and the increasing demand for health services contribute to the need for changes to the health-care system.

In its response to the report, the province has outlined actions to take place in four key areas: helping people stay healthy; addressing changing needs of seniors; supporting health professionals; and investing for better results.


Media Contact:

Kim Silver
Department of Health

Jan MacKinnon
Annapolis Valley Health

Greg Boone
Cape Breton Health Authority

Krista Wood
Colchester East Hants Health Authority
902-893-5554 ext. 2409

Ann Keddy
Cumberland Health Authority

Heather MacKay
Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority

Eileen MacIsaac
Pictou County Health Authority
902-752-7600 ext. 1124

Theresa Hawkesworth
South Shore Health

Barbara Johnson
South West Health

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New resource charts course to recovery for people with schizophrenia

From the December 2007 issue of Canadian Psychiatry Aujourd’hui:
by Mary A. Metcalfe, M.S.

Warren Butcher is like many young people today. The 28-year-old worked at a number of part-time jobs before landing a full-time position that will finally give him weekends off. As the newest support worker in Winnipeg’s Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT), Warren has taken a personal step forward in his journey of recovery from schizophrenia.

Mr. Butcher experienced his first psychosis six years ago and was diagnosed five years ago.

“When we were first faced with his diagnosis we were frightened." His mother Amy, a registered nurse, remembers thinking, “What could I do? How could we help him? Who could we reach out to? Even with my medical knowledge, I didn’t know where to turn."

For patients and families facing that journey today, there is a new publication to help them navigate. Schizophrenia: The Journey to Recovery. A Consumer and Family Guide to Assessment and Treatment was a joint effort by the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada to produce a plain-language resource for those whose lives are affected by schizophrenia.
To read the entire article, click here.

Printed copies of Schizophrenia: The Journey to Recovery. A Consumer and Family Guide to Assessment and Treatment are available from the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia by sending an email to

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Potential New Treatments Being Researched for Schizophrenia

A January 10th posting by Psych Central:
Schizophrenia remains one of the most challenging mental disorders to treat. New research published this month examines a number of possible treatments that hold promise in the treatment of schizophrenia. While these drugs are still in their infancy and far from being approved for human use for schizophrenia, the research suggests future schizophrenia treatment directions.
To read the remainder of this article, click here.

All of the research papers referred to in the above news story are available for free download from the January 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry, the theme of which is Schizophrenia: From Genetics to Treatment. Click here to view the Table of Contents of this issue and to download the papers.

Moving Forward Together:

Stakeholder perspectives on the priorities of The Mental Health Commission of Canada

From a report produced by the Mental Health Commission of Canada:


Since its inception, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has been committed to working together with the many Canadians who care about mental health and mental illness. One of the first tasks we set for ourselves was to begin the process of building or strengthening stakeholder relationships. This report describes the results of a series of stakeholder consultations that kicked off this process.

Between October 9 and October 17, 2007, seven meetings were held in six cities across Canada: Toronto (two meetings), Saint John NB, Halifax, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. These meetings were considered a first step in a broader initiative that will see the Mental Health Commission regularly reach out to stakeholders across the country. The resulting ongoing conversation will provide critical input to help guide our work.

Key informants in every city helped us identify possible participants from local groups and organizations, and approximately 75 people were invited to each meeting. Although we recognized that the invitees for this first round of meetings represented just a small sampling of stakeholders, every attempt was made to hear as wide a range of views from the field as possible.

Invited participants included:
  • people who have experienced mental illness
  • their family members
  • formal service providers
  • hospital personnel
  • community groups
  • regional planning bodies
  • government
  • police
These participants also represented different life stages, ethnocultural groups, Aboriginal communities, as well as a variety of perspectives.

Each invitee was given the opportunity to submit a short brief. Six to eight participating groups were also invited to present the main points of their brief in person at the meeting, in order to stimulate dialogue and lead into the discussion. The briefs were structured around two questions, framed within the context of the Commission’s three key initiatives: development of an anti-stigma program, a Knowledge Exchange Centre and a National Mental Health Strategy.

The questions are:
  • What would you like to see the Commission accomplish over the next three years?
  • How could your organization help the Commission and the mental health community to achieve these objectives?
The written briefs and face-to-face discussions in response to these questions provided us with a rich base of information. There were many consistent messages, but there were also distinct themes unique to each meeting, and some challenging divergent perspectives on issues and priorities. What came through clearly across all the meetings were a strong sense of optimism about the potential impact of the Commission, and enthusiasm for working with us to help achieve our common goals.

Preparation of this report involved taking all the data from the oral record and written briefs in all seven consultations, identifying common themes and categories and distilling the information into a coherent summary. Most points included represent the views of a number of participants; the source is identified for some very specific suggestions. The goal was to capture the most consistent messages in regard to the Commission’s three priority areas and its work in general, while retaining the integrity of the complete record as much as possible.

Despite best efforts, the process of clustering and distilling information meant that some discrete points, and many details, are not included. It is also important to note that the results reflect the participant mix in the consultations, and are not necessarily representative of stakeholder views in general.

To all of those who participated in this process, we offer our sincere thanks for sharing your valuable time and views. We have been truly impressed by the wisdom and passion behind every point made. Although only a few of these appear in the report exactly as stated or written, they all informed the analysis, and we will be keeping the complete record for ongoing reference.

To those who were not present in this first round of consultations, please stay in touch with us. We remain committed to continuing and expanding the conversation so that the emerging agenda of the Mental Health Commission reflects the interests and needs of its entire constituency across Canada.

Bonnie Pape
On behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

To read the entire report, click here.

To read the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia's October 12th submission to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, click here.

Pathways to Inclusion

Building a New Story with People and Communities

A new book by Canadians John Lord and Peggy Hutchison:

Pathways to Inclusion: Building a New Story with People and Communities is an examination of various perspectives on disability and provides insightful discussion on the current need for social innovation to move vulnerable citizens from areas of exclusion to social inclusion.

Pathways to Inclusion addresses the organizational strategies that have been used in the past and highlights areas for change. Human service organizations are examined, pinpointing common characteristics that have led to improved quality of life for people with disabilities and other vulnerable citizens. This book includes a discussion of discriminatory social policy and outlines characteristics of pathways to inclusion, detailing the need for social innovation and a New Story.

Well-researched, with clear dialogue and interspersed with insightful anecdotes, Pathways to Inclusion inspires change within both human services and the greater community. This book is an invaluable resource to educators, advocates, citizens, families, and practitioners in the fields of disability studies, aging, and related human services.

About the Authors

John Lord is a community researcher and human service consultant. He was a founder of the Centre for Research and Education in Human Services, and the Centre's first Director from 1982 to 1995. John has published widely in the areas of deinstitutionalization, independent living, empowerment, and innovative community supports for vulnerable citizens. John has been the co-founder of several innovations, including the Support Clusters Project, the Welcoming Home Initiative, and Foundations for Life.

Peggy Hutchison is a Professor in Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. She was a founder of the Centre for Research and Education in Human Services. She has been actively involved in research, education, and advocacy related to inclusion for the past twenty-five years both nationally and internationally. Her areas of interest include: empowerment, inclusion, IL movement, relationships, and community building. In addition, she is a long time editor of the Journal of Leisurability and advisor for Kitchener-Waterloo People First.

Thanks go to the National Network for Mental Health for bringing this book to my attention.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Focus Group Participants Needed - HRM

Project Title:

Pharmacist’s services for patients with mental illness: a descriptive survey of patient experiences and preferences.

Researchers at Capital Health will be holding a focus group during the week of February 4th to 8th. The date, time, and location will be selected to suit those who volunteer to participate. This one time focus group will take 90 minutes to complete.

We are looking for 6-8 people to participate.

The aim of the focus group is to get feedback on a short survey about pharmacy services for people with mental illnesses.

People who are 19 years of age or older and who have taken or take a medication for a mental illness may participate in the focus group.

If you are interested or would like to receive more information, please contact: Dr. David Gardner at 473-4955.

This project (CDHA-RS/2007-313) has received research ethics approval by the Capital Health Research Ethics Board.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

FDA Evaluating New Drugs for Schizophrenia Treatment

"Despite an earlier setback with bifeprunox, three new antipsychotic drugs — asenapine [molecular structure illustrated on right], paliperidone palmitate injection, and iloperidone — have been submitted to the FDA for review."

To read this article written by Jun Yan and published in the January 4th issue of Psychiatric News, click here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

And now for something completely different ...

... from the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society.

Naked Jumpers take the Plunge

Bungy fans let it all hang out to raise money for mental health organization

An article published in the January 4 the edition of the Nanaimo Daily News:

By Paul Walton

Jumpers at a popular annual nude bungy jump will be removing a stigma as they remove their clothes.

The event, set for Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at WildPlay at the Bungy Zone south of Nanaimo, will raise awareness and money for the B.C. Schizophrenia Society. WildPlay president and general manager Tom Benson said this is the second year the event will benefit the Schizophrenia Society.

Benson said his own experience in seeing schizophrenia in a family member drew his organization to link up with the society.

"They made a big difference . . . and we think mental illness is under-supported," said Benson. "We said, 'let's make a difference where it really counts.'"

Nadine Saunders, a spokeswoman with the Schizophrenia Society, said last year's event pulled in $4,000, and they hope to double that this year. And though the cost to naked bungy jumpers is $25 (and the regular $99 for clothed leapers), oglers will be charged $10 to get in the park on that weekend.

The drop is 50 metres to the bottom of the Nanaimo River gorge with a harness around the ankles. Asked if she would participate, Saunders was resolute.

"No way!" she said, but noted she will be on the platform for both days to assist with donations.

All proceeds go to the Schizophrenia Society, and Benson hopes to see people from all over the Island in a generous mood on both days.

"We'd love to see support from the community, people offering sponsorships and making donations," he said.

Saunders said she was a little concerned when the naked angle was raised to the Schizophrenia Society board last year.

"A lot of our members are older, and I thought it would be more controversial but all our board members had no problem with it," she said.

While fundraising is important, both Saunders and Benson said the event is also important to raise awareness about schizophrenia. Benson said that most people are touched by mental illness among family or friends, if not personally.
Click here for the event poster (PDF).

Event location not exactly as illustrated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Two questions to ponder

A quote from an article published in the December 31st issue of the Halifax Daily News:
Mental-health advocates say the Hyde case and the cases of accused-murderer Race and stabbing victim Ayer highlight the need for more services for the mentally ill in Nova Scotia.

So why has the Nova Scotia government not announced any new resource allocations for mental health services?

Or have they?