Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer party raises thousands to help homeless

Posted today on

By Lois Tuffin

The two worlds couldn't be further apart.

Mentally ill people living on the streets. The ultra wealthy on a manicured lawn, dropping $20 bills on raffle tickets then bidding thousands of dollars on auction items.

These two worlds crossed paths Saturday night as Farsad Kiani and Joan Bush opened their north-end property to 417 guests in hopes of raising $100,000 to support a program that supports street people with mental illness so they can move into stable housing and get help for their addictions and health problems. Mr. Kiani is president and CEO of Ensil International Corporation, an electronics engineering company whose Canadian head office is based in Markham.

He hosts fundraisers at his farm regularly, supporting the Alzheimer Society, Princess Margaret Hospital and other health-related charities. However, he turned his attention to the Peterborough branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) when he learned one of its vital programs was in jeopardy if not funded.

The Peterborough Homelessness Outreach and Support Project's two case workers, nurse practitioner, registered nurse and trustee work with clients to secure housing, basic health care, mental health and addictions services to break the cycle of repeated visits to the shelters. In the past year, it has served more than 200 clients and has moved 90 of them into proper homes.

The program was facing a $115,000 shortfall next year.

When Mr. Kiani learned about the gap, he decided to host a summer lawn party to bridge it.

"People on the streets would be on their own," he says. "That's not the kind of community we want to live in."

To read the entire article, please click here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fighting against stigma

An editorial published in yesterday's edition of The Globe and Mail:

Canadian soldiers deserve the very best in mental health care

Canadian soldiers face many challenges on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but one of the most difficult often does not surface until after they return home: operational stress injuries that inflict invisible but devastating psychological wounds. In the past, the military did little to protect or rehabilitate these soldiers, leaving them to languish, ostracized and isolated. There is hope that is changing.

On Thursday, after a House of Commons defence committee report that revealed significant gaps in the military mental-health system, General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of the Defence Staff, announced a mental-health awareness campaign, as part of a new strategy to tackle operational stress injuries in the military. The campaign also features two non-clinical mental health programs, including a speakers series and peer counselling.

The announcement is significant, because it breaks the military's silence on a sensitive subject. For people in the profession of arms, toughness is a cultural ethos. Soldiers don't like to admit to physical pain, let alone anything as invisible and intangible as psychological anguish. Those in uniform who suffer from posttraumatic stress syndrome have injuries as real as any gunshot wound, yet the stigma around psychological injuries is still so painful and career-limiting for many that they will confide behind closed doors they would prefer to have been shot.

The Canadian Forces have made progress since they arrived in Kandahar a few years ago. They are struggling to cope with a wave of young Afghanistan vets who have served in an overtasked and under-strength military. The CF are learning; joint personnel support units, to help those suffering from PTSD, have been established across the country; decompression time in Cyprus is now built in to tours of duty; Independent military-family resource centres offer a variety of programs to family members. But progress is slow, waiting lists are long, and stigma is still very real.

The military still faces significant hurdles. Cultural change does not occur overnight. In spite of programs to increase understanding of PTSD, many soldiers maintain it is career suicide to admit to an operational stress injury. As long as that view remains, OSIs, which emerge primarily through self-reporting, will remain an insidious problem.

It is easy for civilians to judge the military harshly for failing to remedy this very serious problem more completely or quickly, but the reality is that Bay Street and Main street are hardly in a position to crow about their own compassionate treatment of the mentally ill.

The military deserve the very best in care; they risk their mental health just as much their physical health in the service of the nation. Stigma and skewed perceptions about OSIs must be overcome, because the cost of failing to do so is too high, with casualties on the home front among Canadian soldiers and their families.

Bold emphasis in the text of the editorial is mine.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MacGillivray new chair of Nova Scotia Mental Health Foundation

An article published online today by The Chronicle Herald:

The Mental Health Foundation elected Fred MacGillivray [pictured] as their new chair for the Nova Scotia board of directors.

Mr. MacGillivray has been a board member for many years and has been instrumental in the foundation’s A Different Stage of Mind campaign which raised $1 million for Nova Scotia mental health programs and services.

“With mental health in the spotlight now more than ever before, this is an exciting time to be leading this foundation that is committed to enhancing and improving the quality of life for Nova Scotians with mental illness,” said Mr. MacGillivray.

The foundation was created in 1987. It raises mental health awareness and supports organizations that provide mental health care in Nova Scotia.

The election occurred at their annual general meeting on Thursday. Mr. MacGillivray is replacing Robert Hunt who has been chair since September 2007.

Mr. MacGillivray was the president and chief executive officer of Trade Centre Limited between 1994 and March of this year.

Photograph courtesy of Atlantic Business Magazine.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughts on Support Groups

Posted yesterday on the Overcoming Schizophrenia weblog:
What other support groups have you participated in? What did you like or dislike about them?

I've participated in NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) groups, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) groups, and others; including online groups. I prefer small groups, less than ten people. I enjoy sharing my story and relating to other people. Ideally, I would like to find a group that I can grow with, meet friends and people I can trust and spend time with outside of the meetings. I remember in WRAP meetings we developed rules that respected members of the group, that made me feel a little more comfortable. NAMI groups allowed me to bring my family, that was a plus, so that members of my family can be educated about things relating to mental illness too.

Online groups are great because of its diversity of experiences. You learn so much from other people's experiences and questions and answers. The plus for online groups is you get stay anonymous.

I can't say I disliked anything particular about the support groups I've attended. What are your thoughts on support groups?

Also, check out a new support group, Embracing My Mind. To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Youth Mental Health on Facebook

Posted yesterday on Teen Mental Health Blog:
So after months of team discussion we have finally made our first foray into Facebook! Yeah I know … we are a little behind the trend - but better late than never.

Our goal is to get over 1,000 people to become a fan of our “Help Canada Create a Youth Mental Health Strategy” page.

The Facebook page is an offshoot of our Evergreen project - a collaborative initiative with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to produce a document to help improve policy and programming related to child and adolescent mental health across Canada.

We created the Facebook page for 4 primary reasons:
  1. Engagement - we want people to share their opinions with us about what values and principles Canadians want to uphold in relation to mental illness and child and adolescent mental health services. On July 1st the public forum will be open for you to share your voice.

  2. Education - an informed public is a strong public. Our Facebook page will feature some of the guides and information uploaded on our site. We want to give people the best available info to make good decisions about their mental health.

  3. Advocacy - the Mental Health Commission of Canada is committed to creating a comprehensive mental health strategy for Canada and are in support of a component specific to the needs of children and youth. Youth mental health will stay in the shadows unless we speak up and advocate for change - Facebook is just one of the ways you can speak up.

  4. Connection - facebook is a great way to connect with people who share similar causes to you. By creating this page we want to connect people who care about youth mental health and want to make a difference to Canada’s mental health system.
Help make a difference for thousands of young people. Join “Help Canada Create a Youth Mental Health Strategy“.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

News from the Lunenburg County Chapter of the SSNS

The June 16th Monthly Support Meeting of the Lunenburg County Chapter of the SSNS was a night out at Bowl-More Lanes and Pizza Delight in Bridgewater. A total of 26 members and friends of the Lunenburg County Chapter attended.

Kenny Joudrey (above) displays his award for Best Bowler.

Education and Community Access Grants for 2009 were awarded to Ellen Balser, Linda May Dagley (pictured above), and Ralph Mason. Congratulations!

Monthly Support Group
meetings will resume on Tuesday, September 15th, at 7:00 pm.

Missing woman speaks with family

An article published in the June 20th edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Mother: With no services to help her daughter, she’ll continue to run away

By Heather Amos

Koral Lynn Clark [pictured] is 24 and [lives with schizophrenia]. She went missing for two weeks after she stopped taking her medication.

It’s happened before.

Her mother, Kim Clark, says that’s because there aren’t enough services for her daughter when she’s well.

Her comments on Friday came a day after the Halifax Regional Police asked for the public’s help in locating her daughter. Koral heard the media reports and called her family, but would not tell them where she was.

Ms. Clark was hoping to make physical contact with her soon.

Koral was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 20. Since then Koral has been caught in a vicious circle, her mother said.

When Koral feels well, she stops taking her medication, which makes her paranoid. She thinks her family is trying to control her life and begins to distance herself, Ms. Clark said.

Ultimately, Koral requires medical treatment that includes hospitalization and drugs to help her control her condition.

She’ll get better. And because she’s better, she’s sent out into the community to fend for herself.

Feeling better, she stops taking her pills. Legally it’s her right to stop taking them.

The circle repeats itself. "The system says I can’t help her until she gets to the point where she’s no longer capable of making proper decisions for herself," Ms. Clark said.

She’s had to step in to get her daughter help before. Last October, Ms. Clark went to court to get Koral confined under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act, a law enacted in July 2007.

Koral was released from the hospital at the end of April.

And the circle repeated itself.

"The reason why she goes off her meds, in my opinion, is because there’s a major gap between the services provided by the medical profession and getting back into the community," Ms. Clark said.

She believes the circle could be broken if her daughter was aided through the transition period. What she would like to see is a team approach at this stage of her daughter’s treatment.

She’d like there to be housing available where patients have access to psychiatrists, community health nurses and psychologists. Someone needs to help her daughter learn to shop, cook, clean and integrate back into society, she said.

There also needs to be someone available to make sure she complies with her medical regimen.

This type of service is available under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act, but is rarely enforced on an individual, said Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

"The stipulation in the act requires that the person lacks the capacity to make their own treatment decisions," he said. "Quite frankly, generally what happens is that a person is hospitalized involuntarily . . . and they get to the point . . . where they can make their own treatment options."

But one of the problems for people with schizophrenia is a lack of insight into the illness.

"Over 50 per cent of people, particularly those who have a first episode of psychosis, lack any insight that they’re ill," Mr. Ayer said. "In some cases, people, even when they’re treated, continue to lack insight. Those are the ultimate problem cases in terms of the revolving door, in and out of hospitals."

Mr. Ayer thinks Nova Scotia needs more community-based services, especially supportive housing services.

"Ideally there would be housing available specifically for people who live with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders," he said.

Often if someone relapses, they can’t return to where they lived. It’s one of the reasons why Koral has lived on and off the streets for the last three years. If supportive housing were available, she could return to it even if she had a relapse.

Mr. Ayer said Ontario has a good supportive housing system and thinks the problem in Nova Scotia might be that the responsibility for mental health and housing support fall under different government departments.

He explained that about four per cent of the population is affected by schizophrenia or psychosis. His society provides services for these individuals and their families.

Koral could not be reached for this story because contact information for her was unavailable.

Services Provided

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia provides services to people living with schizophrenia or psychosis and the families of those living with the illnesses.

If you are indirectly affected by schizophrenia or psychosis the society provides support by:
  • Individual support for people who call in
  • Help with understanding and navigating the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act
  • Education services
The society is also involved in public policy, research and provides other forms of support. They have four chapters:
The society can be contacted at: 1-800-465-2601 or by visiting their website at:

I have taken the liberty to edit this article to remove the word schizophrenic.

From shadow to light

An article published in the June 20th edition of the Regina Leader-Post:
by Janice Dockham, Editor in Chief

With the support of a $10,000 journalism award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Leader-Post reporter Pam Cowan has prepared a wide-ranging series on mental health in Saskatchewan. In her 12 years as a Leader-Post reporter, the past six focusing on health reporting, Ms. Cowan has written about many facets of mental health. Her background, together with her sensitivity and insight, have allowed her to explore this touchy topic from a very human perspective.

The CIHR award, the largest monetary prize ever won by a Leader-Post reporter, enabled Ms. Cowan to meet face-to-face with people around Saskatchewan who have a personal stake in mental health issues.

From young mothers who have suffered severe post-partum depression to officials in the justice system who must try to find appropriate treatment for offenders with mental disorders, the series profiles both hope and frustration.

Ms. Cowan's stories are supported by photos from Leader-Post photographers Roy Antal, Don Healy, and Bryan Schlosser. There are also touching images by freelance videographer Troy Fleece, who accompanied Ms. Cowan to the Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford and to the three northern communities of La Loche, Buffalo Narrows and Clearwater Dene First Nation.

Follow Ms. Cowan's thought-provoking series, beginning today on Page G1 and continuing until June 26 in the Leader-Post and go to for exclusive online stories and video.

Also see:

Mental Health Series

Photograph by:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Audio recordings: Taser victim was shot twice

An article posted June 18th by
ST. GEORGE - Audio recordings of a Tasering incident that resulted in the death of Brian Cardall [pictured], age 32, released Wednesday by his family, indicate that the man was shot twice with the weapon and apparently stopped breathing at the scene.

The incident began when Cardall's wife, Anna, called police dispatch and said her husband was having a "serious psychosis."

The couple was stopped on state Route 59 on their way home to Flagstaff, Ariz., when the incident occurred.

Cardall's wife can be heard telling the dispatcher her husband was running in the road, had taken his clothes off and was trying to direct traffic.

"I'm really scared he's going to jump in front of a moving car," she is heard saying.

The recordings captured officers ordering Cardall to "get down on the ground ... police officers, get down on the ground, now."

Cardall is heard responding: "This is a standoff - don't shoot me."

A clear pop sound is heard followed by an unidentified officer saying, "Taser deployed."

The recording continues as an officer commands Cardall to stay on the ground. Then, the Taser is deployed again.

Officers go on to tell Cardall's wife to get back in the car and take care of her baby. She is heard saying, "Thank you so much. ... please let him be OK."

Officers are heard talking about how Cardall wasn't breathing.

An officer in the recording says, "He (Cardall) went down, now he's not breathing, no pulse." It continues with officers talking about the Taser deployment.

To read the entire article, please click here:

Also see:

Cardall Family Releases 911 Recordings

Family mourns 'remarkable soul'

Walsh: Police search for a defense in death

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No need to fear or hide a mental illness

A letter to the editor posted today on
I wanted to acknoweldge Robert Hirtle for the kind and congratulatory article outlining the Mental Health Foundation's Inspiring Lives Awards, of which I was a recipient. I must say, it came as a surprise when my mother phoned me in Halifax to inform me of the article, entitled "Honoured for inspiring others."

At first, I was a little nervous about the mention of my personal health history, but was somewhat prepared for it, as I knew that the Inspiring Lives Awards was a public event.

However, although depression is becoming more accepted and talked about, it occurred to me that most people who would be reading the article may not be aware of what schizophrenia is all about. Although it differs in presentation and severity from person to person, more than two-thirds of people living with the illness will significantly recover. I feel blessed to be a part of this group.

Also, readers may not be aware that there is a support group in Bridgewater, a chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, which offers education and support to mental health consumers and their families.

And, if you or a loved one is suffering from distressing or unusual symptoms involving paranoia, hallucinations or simply a decline in emotional responsiveness or intellecual functioning, the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program in Halifax will take no longer than one week to schedule an assessment. They then direct the person to additional supportive services, and provide an appropriate medication and psychosocial regime.

For the last year and a half, I have been working as a peer support worker at Laing House in Halifax, a drop-in support centre for youth with mental illness, and I want to emphasize my observations of how miraculous yet common recovery from serious mental illness can be.

Although my recovery was celebrated at Inspiring Lives, I am not so unique. In fact, most people with severe mental illness do recover and give back to their communities.

Mental illness need not be feared or stigmatized, but should be out in the open, so those people who are suffering can experience inclusion in their communities, and can get the help they need. If anyone is interested in knowing more information on the topic, the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia has a website which features a wealth of information at

I hope the article illustrated to your readers that mental illness need not be a life sentence, but merely an obstacle, a challenge and an opportunity for growth.

Laura Burke [pictured]

Photograph courtesy of

SANE launches website for teens in families affected by mental illness

A June 16th media release from SANE Australia:
SANE Australia today launches a new website – – to support the half a million Australian teenagers affected by mental illness in their family.

Executive Director of SANE Australia Barbara Hocking says, ‘this is often the untold story of mental illness – the impact on teenagers who have a brother, sister or parent with a mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar or an anxiety disorder.

‘These teenagers are a high risk group – they’re not only managing the confusion and powerlessness of a family member’s mental illness but, without support, are also more likely to experience mental illness themselves. This can be a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape. Many may feel they are the only ones this is happening to and that they cannot ask for help.’ aims to break this cycle by giving control back to teenagers through information and reassurance. The website centres on the stories of four teenagers, told through online diary entries, who have a family member with a mental illness. The website also provides factsheets and podcasts about mental illness and treatment as well as an online helpline for teenagers to ask their own questions or seek support.

Ms Hocking says, ‘ aims to help these teenagers regain control and feel less isolated. The website was built specifically for teenagers and has been designed to help them access the information they want, in a format they want.’

A recent study* by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that one in five Australians had a mental disorder within a one-year period, leading SANE to estimate that half a million teenagers are managing the impact of the mental illness of a brother, sister or parent every year.

The impact on teenagers with mental illness in the family can be profound: often leaving them feeling distressed and isolated. They often experience confusion, loneliness, shame, embarrassment, or guilt. Their home life may be impacted by poverty, periods of homelessness or the hospitalisation for their relative.

Features of
  • A key feature of the service is the stories of four teenagers with a family member affected by mental illness: Sarah, Rani, Jenna and Brett. The characters are based on the real-life experience of teenagers who helped create the site.
  • An online helpline for teenagers to ask questions about mental illness and related topics
  • Factsheets on everything from antidepressants to suicide prevention, cannabis and psychosis; family support to treatment and recovery
  • Podcasts which provide information about the full range of mental health problems and treatment.

Note to Editors
  • SANE Australia’s Executive Director Barbara Hocking is available for interview
  • Screengrabs of are available
  • Images of Sarah, Rani, Jenna and Brett are available

* National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Recovery from schizophrenia and the recovery model

The abstract of an article published in the July 2009 edition of Current Opinion in Psychiatry:
By Dr. Richard Warner [pictured]

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA


Purpose of review: The recovery model refers to subjective experiences of optimism, empowerment and interpersonal support, and to a focus on collaborative treatment approaches, finding productive roles for user/consumers, peer support and reducing stigma. The model is influencing service development around the world. This review will assess whether optimism about outcome from serious mental illness and other tenets of the recovery model are borne out by recent research.

Recent findings: Remission of symptoms has been precisely defined, but the definition of 'recovery' is a more diffuse concept that includes such factors as being productive and functioning independently. Recent research and a large, earlier body of data suggest that optimism about outcome from schizophrenia is justified. A substantial proportion of people with the illness will recover completely and many more will regain good social functioning. Outcome is better for people in the developing world. Mortality for people with schizophrenia is increasing but is lower in the developing world. Working appears to help people recover from schizophrenia, and recent advances in vocational rehabilitation have been shown to be effective in countries with differing economies and labor markets. A growing body of research supports the concept that empowerment is an important component of the recovery process.

Summary: Key tenets of the recovery model - optimism about recovery from schizophrenia, the importance of access to employment and the value of empowerment of user/consumers in the recovery process - are supported by the scientific research. Attempts to reduce the internalized stigma of mental illness should enhance the recovery process.

employment, empowerment, outcome, recovery, schizophrenia

Posting of this abstract is for the purposes of research into schizophrenia and recovery.

Photograph courtesy of Colorado Recovery.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

'SEE-ing' the difference: evaluation shows that $167 million investment improves Ontario's community mental health system, but many still in need

A news release from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH):
TORONTO, June 10 /CNW/ - Can $167 million in provincial funding make a difference to Ontario's community mental health system? According to the results from the Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI), the answer is yes. Ontarians now have access to more appropriate community mental health services. But, the research also highlights the system's limited resources to serve all those in need.

Led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. Paula Goering [pictured], SEEI is the culmination of nine research studies that explored the system impact of $167 million of new community mental health funding in Ontario. As Dr. Goering explains, this report is an installment in the ongoing dialogue about what we can do to enhance the community mental health system's ability to meet the needs of those living with mental illness.

The results showed that:
  • Access to services improved, with many early intervention and court support services able to double the number of people served, and more clients were matched with the level of care they required.
  • Programs are reaching people earlier, as young people are getting help at an earlier stage of their illness.
  • Clients experienced a range of positive outcomes such as lower relapse rates in use of hospital resources for those in early intervention programs, and rates of homelessness and the severity of symptoms were reduced for clients in the Ottawa court support program.
However, the data showed that our health system has a limited capacity to serve all those in need, particularly clients who need intensive or daily community level support. Also, clients experienced a lack of other support services, particularly in the areas of housing and vocational training. At the regional level, one of the highest areas of unmet needs for clients was a lack of access to dental, social and vocational services.

"It's important to remember that formal health care services and systems are only part of the picture," says Dr. Goering. "As the results show, the larger society in which the community health system is located has a profound influence on the lives of those who seek help."

The SEEI partner organizations are:
  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs
  • Ontario Mental Health Foundation
For more information on what happened and what differences we can see as a result of this substantial investment in Ontario's community mental health system, visit Moving in the Right Direction for a copy of the SEEI final report [PDF].

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

For further information:

Media contact: Michael Torres, CAMH Media Relations, at (416) 595-6015

Photograph courtesy of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mental health wrangle

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Most major psychiatric disorders begin in adolescence and early adulthood. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by 2020, major depression will rank first among all medical illnesses accounting for more of the global burden of disease than AIDS, war or traffic accidents, while bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and substance use disorders are in the WHO top 10.

Psychiatric illnesses have a strong genetic contribution associated with neurobiological abnormalities. While education, family and individual psychological support are an important part of the recovery plan, acute and preventative treatment is pharmacological.

Nova Scotia is in desperate need of a strategy for the identification and treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders. The specialists responsible for the care of these patients, along with research to improve diagnosis and develop effective and tolerable treatments, have had unprecedented difficulty negotiating with the Department of Health for funding to sustain and develop psychiatric services.

In fact, members of the Department of Psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre sent a detailed letter of concern to the Department of Health, detailing the resulting crisis in psychiatry service for patients and their families.

Therefore, it is concerning to read in your June 5 article about this topic from high-ranking government officials that "spending has increased by 63 per cent" – it certainly has not translated into funding for specialists or that "wait times stem from a shortage of psychologists and other mental health professionals rather than psychiatrists (physician specialists) alone." I wonder if cancer patients and their families or the specialists responsible for their care would accept this.

Anne Duffy, MD, FRCPC [pictured]
Professor and Clinical Research
Scholar, Department of Psychiatry, IWK Health Centre

Photograph courtesy of the Mood Disorders Centre of Ottawa.

TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd. and the WorkBridge Association

Agency Overview

From the website:
TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd. and the WorkBridge Association, as a Centralized Employment Centre, offer a wide range of services, helpful career counseling and an on-site resource facility to assist in your career search.

Our mandate is to foster cooperation and collaboration amongst the network of member organizations delivering employment-related services to persons with disabilities. The result of this cooperative approach is the maximization and delivery of excellent services, which develop and support employment and business opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Please take some time to browse through our new website to see what we do and what resources we have to offer you.

If you need to get in touch with us, simply click the Contact Us button for our contact form.

Please click on the image to magnify it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Winning Bidder - Just Say "Fore" eBay Golf Auction

Jim Britten, the winning binner for the Lunenburg County Chapter's May 25th Just Say "Fore" eBay Golf Auction.

Please click on the photograph to expand it.

The Lunenburg County Chapter thanks all of the participating golf courses:
  1. Amherst Golf and Country Club
  2. Avon Valley
  3. Berwick Heights Golf Club
  4. Bluenose Golf Club
  5. Chester Golf Club
  6. Clare Golf and Country Club
  7. Eden Golf and Country Club
  8. Eaglequest Golf Center – Grandview
  9. Osprey Ridge Golf ClubRiver Oaks
  10. White Point Beach Resort

Walk the World for Schizophrenia - Lunenburg County Chapter of the SSNS

Aubrey Zinck (right) wins first prize in the May 24th Walk the World for Schizophrenia raffle draw - two return VIA Rail tickets to Montreal. Presenting the Via Rail tickets are Denton Conrad (left), president of the Lunenburg County Chapter of the SSNS, and Jean Covert (second from left), vice president. Joining them is Kaye Joudrey (second from right).

Second prize of two two-year track passes at the HB Studios Sports Centre was won by Ardan Stevenson of Bridgewater.

Third prize of consisting of a painting by Richard Balser was won by Joan Kamler of Bridgewater.

Aubrey Zinck (right) and Kaye Joudrey (left) display their two return VIA Rail tickets to Montreal.

Charlene Flint (left), a volunteer with the Lunenburg County Chapter of the SSNS, and Jan House (right), Fundraising Chair, join Aubrey Zinck, winner of VIA Rail tickets to Montreal, to thank VIA Rail Canada for their raffle donation.

From left to right, Linda Dagley, Kenny Joudrey, Rachel Robar, and Ralph Mason (right) getting ready to Walk The World for Schizophrenia at HB Studios Sports Centre.

Jan House (left), Denton Conrad (second from left), and Bridgewater Mayor Carroll Publicover (right) congratulate Kenny Joudrey (second from right) for obtaining the second highest amount of pledges for Walk the World for Schizophrenia.

Ruth Henderson and Richard Balser (foreground) join Aubrey Zinck and Kay Joudrey (background) dancing to the music of Brenda Fitzgerald and Eldon Cooper at the Walk The World for Schizophrenia Reception held at the Bridgewater Girl Guides Cabin.

Please click on any photograph to enlarge it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mental Health Community Festival of Hope

Photographs from today's Mental Health Community Festival of Hope.

Click on any photograph to enlarge it.

All photographs by Stephen Ayer.

For further information on the Mental Health Community Festival of Hope, please visit:

Responses from all four parties on Mental Health / Mental Illness in Nova Scotia

From the Mental Health Coalition of Nova Scotia website:
The Mental Health Coalition of Nova Scotia is committed to ensuring all candidates in this election have an understanding of the issues as they relate to mental health services in Nova Scotia. To see the letter that was sent to the parties and to read their responses, please visit this link. For more things to consider before placing a vote for a party or candidate, take a look at these important facts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Housing affordability crisis for people with disabilities

A news brief from the June 2009 edition of Psychiatric Services:
In 2008 the national average rent for a modest one-bedroom unit reached $749 per month, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For the more than four million people with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), this figure exceeds their entire average monthly income of $668.

Rising rents are not the only factor in the housing affordability crisis. Annual income for a person on SSI is $8,016, which has fallen to 18.6% of the national median income for a single-person household and is 30% below the federal poverty level for an individual.

The crisis is described in a new report Priced Out in 2008, the latest in a series published every two years by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force. In 1998, when the first report was issued, there were 44 housing market areas in 13 states where a person on SSI would have to pay more than his or her monthly income for a one-bedroom unit. Ten years later, this was the case in 219 housing market areas across 41 states. The report also describes signs of progress, including 2009 legislation that creates a new National Affordable Housing Trust Fund and that includes tens of billions of dollars in housing relief through changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and commitments of capital funds to public housing. The 47-page report, which was funded by the Melville Charitable Trust, is available at

Also see:

Supportive Housing

Dalhousie University Department of Psychiatry Headlines - May 2009

Please click on the image to magnify it.

To view the entire issue, please click here (PDF).

Page 10 of this issue includes an article on the Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders and the Mind Matters: Public Lecture and Panel Discussion on Psychosis held on May 6th at the Holiday in Harbourview in Dartmouth (the panel is pictured at right, please click on the image to magnify it).

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Mental health system 'needs help,' funding

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Programs to help youth are in crisis, even worse for adults, doctors say

By Eva Hoare, Staff Reporter

The mental health system serving Nova Scotia’s young people is in crisis, say health care advocates who are holding a news conference in Halifax today to demand action on the province’s failing mental health program.

On average, three kids per day landed at the IWK Health Centre’s emergency department in 2008 suffering from severe mental health symptoms, and it took six to 12 months for a young person to get an initial consultation with a psychiatrist, a psychiatrist involved in the system said recently.

But those numbers could get worse if something isn’t done to recruit and retain more psychiatrists, the advocates said.

"It’s particularly acute for child psychiatry," said Dr. Aileen Brunet, a consultant to the IWK’s Youth Justice Service.

Dr. Brunet is also a forensic psychiatrist with the East Coast Forensic Hospital and president of the Nova Scotia Psychiatric Association.

About 70 full-time and 20 part-time psychiatrists, who mostly work in the Halifax Regional Municipality under an academic funding agreement with the Health Department, have been working without a contract since April 1, 2008.

Before that they were on "repeated interim agreements" — each a year in length — since 2006, said Dr. Brunet.

She’s worried a proper mental health strategy won’t be developed without a longer-term contract.

"We can’t hire new people, so we can’t reduce wait times," she said.

The picture is even worse for adults suffering from mental illness; their numbers at emergency departments double those of youth, the advocates said.

However, some good news did occur this past week when the psychiatrist group signed a memorandum of understanding with the province and a new deadline for a contract was set for this October, said Dr. Nick Delva [pictured], the head of Dalhousie University’s psychiatry department.

"I think we’d be happy with any current contract," Dr. Delva said in an interview Thursday. "The problem with us is that we’ve had no contract since April 1, 2008. We do need to keep ahead of these things and not get so far behind."

He said it’s imperative that a mental health strategy be developed for the province.

"I think mental health has been underfunded," Dr. Delva said, noting the amount set aside in Nova Scotia is lower than the national average.

More community-based mental health centres are needed. If they existed more mental health care beds could be freed up in hospitals, Dr. Delva added.

"We see a real need for a real recruitment and retention strategy for psychiatrists from the Department of Health," said Wendy Ackerley, director of resource development for Laing House.

The house helps people, aged 16-30, living with mental problems.

"Youth with mental illness have a need for support at times. Those times are very critical," she said, before adding that more systems must be put in place to help young people before they land in emergency rooms.

Andy Cox, who’s on the board of Laing House and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, added his voice to the cries for a provincial mental health strategy.

"One in five Nova Scotians experience mental illness and youth (numbers) are even greater than that," said Mr. Cox. "We have a mental health system that just needs help."

New Brunswick has followed the federal government’s lead, implementing its own plan, said Mr. Cox, also a patient advocate for the IWK’s mental health and addictions department.

A proper plan would include a campaign to destigmatize the illness among Nova Scotia’s youth, emphasizing the need to attract, retain and shorten wait times, he said.

"I would say mental health is in crisis; across the country, but especially youth mental health," Mr. Cox said.

Linda Smith, executive director of Mental Health, Children’s Services and Addiction Treatment for Nova Scotia, acknowledged the amount set aside for mental health is still low; running at about 3.5 per cent of the provincial budget. But she said spending has increased by 63 per cent over the past eight years.

"Is that enough? . . . We would always like to have more," she said in a recent interview.

Wait times are longer "than we would like," she said, but she believes that stems more from a shortage of psychologists and other mental health professionals rather than psychiatrists alone.

Also see:

Politicians’ mental health ideas criticized

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

RCMP halts use of older model Tasers after B.C. decision

An article posted June 1st on
The RCMP is pulling all older model M-26 Tasers from service nationwide after the B.C. government announced Monday such weapons don't meet the manufacturer's specifications.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman ordered the province's RCMP service to pull all 578 of its older-model M-26 Tasers from service after testing showed the same models used by municipal police forces, sheriffs and corrections officers didn't meet the manufacturer's specifications 80 per cent of the time.

The province's decision prompted the Mounties to issue a statement from Ottawa saying the force is removing all its M-26 stun guns from active service "until each unit can be tested."
To read the entire article, please click here.

Also see:

Nova Scotia RCMP pulls older Tasers out for testing

Mounties pull some Tasers

Photograph by Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette / Canadian Press.

Monday, June 1, 2009

APA meeting 2009: new schizophrenia products and depot formulations

An article posted on May 31st by
The annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association is the year's largest psychiatry event. This year's conference in San Francisco indicated that long-acting depot versions of atypical antipsychotics continue to prove useful tools in the treatment of schizophrenia. In addition, new potential market entrants reported mixed data from new oral antipsychotics.

Although the majority of antipsychotics are now broadly used across most psychiatric conditions, the schizophrenia market continues to attract attention from developers of both novel antipsychotics and new formulations aimed at addressing the major unmet need of compliance.

The long-dosing regimen and intramuscular administration of long-acting injectable depot formulations of atypical antipsychotics results in a greater transparency of compliance. Eli Lilly presented new data for Zypadhera (olanzapine long-acting injection), as it continues to seek US approval and enter the market that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has pioneered through Risperdal Consta (risperidone long-acting injection).

Data from new oral atypical antipsychotics were also presented. Vanda followed up the recent surprise approval of oral Fanapt (iloperidone) by presenting two posters detailing comparative data. Dainippon Sumitomo, meanwhile, provided delegates the first chance to see Phase III data for lurasidone.
To read the entire article, please click here.

Also see:

Newer Treatments for Schizophrenia: Benefits and Drawbacks

Schering asks EU to approve schizophrenia drug