Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Crisis Intervention Team International (CITI) Conference

September 12th to September 14th, 2011
Virginia Beach, Virginia

An email received by the SSNS today from Maureen Wheller, Senior Strategy Advisor (Captial Health Mental Health Services):
Good morning,

Mary Pyche, acting program leader for Emergency Mental Health at Capital Health, has been chosen to speak at the International Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Conference being held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, September 2011. Mary will be joined by one of the Halifax Regional Police Officers dedicated to the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team. The constable presenting with Mary also co-delivers CIT education with Mary to police officers. Their topic is the Four Level Training matrix Mary developed to enhance mental health training for law enforcement and how it fits with a Crisis Team Co-Response Model.

Here is a brief summary written by Mary for the conference program:
The Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team, Capital Health Mental Health Program is a co-response model of policing and mental health. We believe that a combination of CIT and a co-response model provides the most comprehensive service for building capacity in a community response to mental illness. One aspect of the partnership the Mobile Crisis Team has with Halifax Regional Police in this co-response model is the delivery of mental health training and education to police members. They have developed a four level matrix model of training. Each level has distinct learning objectives and serves a purpose to deliver some level of education on mental health and crisis response to all police officers in the Halifax Regional Police Department. This presentation will meet the following learning objectives:
  1. Increase understanding of a co-response model of policing and mental health and the fit this has with a CIT Program.

  2. Gain knowledge of a model of police training in mental health that includes all police members attain one level of training.

  3. Increase knowledge in developing and implementing a training Matrix.
Mary also organized the provincial police/mental health liaison conference scheduled for June 13th, 2011.

Congratulations, Mary!

Thank you.


Image credit

John Devlin, a member of the SSNS, is publishing a book entitled Nova Cantabrigiensis.

From the book's website:

Nova Cantabrigiensis is a utopian island in the middle of the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia.

It is the invention of visionary outsider artist John Devlin [pictured], and was designed to recreate the atmosphere and architecture of Cambridge, England, which John considers to be the perfect city.

John came to study in Cambridge in 1979, and fell in love with its unique ambience. When mental illness forced him to return home to Canada after just one year, he became obsessed with discovering the secret to 'the Cambridge essence'.

Over ten years, John created over 360 beautiful and unique illustrations, dream-like sketches of re-imagined and reconfigured Cambridge buildings, drawn again and again in the pursuit of perfection.

The book Nova Cantabrigiensis will present a selection of John's illustrations, his writings about the island and his mathematical theories about the architecture. It will be published in the summer of 2011.


Nova Cantabrigiensis is now available for pre-order! Please click here to pre-order the book, to get a signed, limited edition copy, and to see a video about the book.


John was interviewed on CBC Radio One on June 10th, 2010. To listen to the recording, please click here.

Read the BBC's piece on John's 2010 exhibition by clicking here.
Also see:

John Devlin's website

Monday, May 30, 2011

Electric Fire by Jon David Welland

Jon David Welland is an artist and writer living and working in Nova Scotia. He is a post-modern surrealist whose work draws upon popular culture, mysticism and psychology.

To visit Jon's blog, please click here.

Also see:

Veith Street Gallery

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Million-dollar fellowship boost

An article published in yesterday's edition of The Chronicle:
PARLIAMENTARY Secretary for Community Services Julie Collins [pictured] today announced that the Schizophrenia Fellowship of Queensland in Toowoomba will receive more than $1.4 million.

It will allow the fellowship to continue providing much-needed support to local people with mental illness.

Schizophrenia Fellowship of Queensland is one of 79 community mental health services across the country which will have their funding extended for three years through the Government’s Personal Helpers and Mentors program.

"Schizophrenia Fellowship of Queensland provides invaluable support to local people with severe mental illness, their families and carers in our community," Ms Collins said.

"Personal helpers and mentors provide practical, intensive support to help people with severe mental illness set and achieve personal goals, such as finding suitable housing, looking for work or improving relationships with family and friends.

"They help make a real and lasting difference in local people’s lives."

The funding is in addition to the Federal Government’s $269.3 million boost for community mental health services announced in this year’s Budget, part of a total commitment of $2.2 billion over five years for mental health services across Australia.
Also see:

Understanding schizophrenia

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Child and Yourth Mental Health

Please click on the image to magnify it.

To download this special issue of Healthcare Quartly (PDF), please click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New film -- Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery

I highly recommend this film.

From this website:

This film is dedicated to the approximately two million Americans living with schizophrenia, and to the people supporting them in their journeys of recovery.

"Living with Schizophrenia: A Call for Hope and Recovery" explores the lives of three people living with schizophrenia, a chronic brain disorder that can be severe and disabling and often is misunderstood and stigmatized. The documentary reveals their daily struggles, personal insights about the illness, and paths the mental health recovery process.

These are the stories of hope that aren’t making headlines.

"Living with Schizophrenia" was funded and produced by Janssen Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The people featured in the film present their own stories and ideas and were not compensated by Janssen to appear in the film. Janssen does not endorse any organization, source of information or project named in the film. Janssen products are not named or promoted in the film.
To view the film, please click here.

Also see:

"Living with Schizophrenia" Documentary Shines Spotlight on People with Schizophrenia: A Misunderstood and Stigmatized Illness

Overcoming Schizophrenia

Embracing My Mind, Inc. (EMM)

Rebecca Lyn Phillips (on Twitter)

Dr. Xavier Amador

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mental health strategy still seems elusive

An opinion piece published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Marilla Stephenson (pictured)

What’s the difference between "excited delirium" and "autonomic hyperarousal state?"

Not much. In fact, in the provincial government’s response to the Hyde Inquiry report, the second term is used as a replacement for the first.

The inquiry, headed last year by provincial court Judge Anne Derrick, studied the death of Howard Hyde, a Dartmouth man who died in custody in 2007 at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth. Hyde suffered from mental illness and the cause of his death was initially identified by a coroner as "excited delirium."

Derrick rejected that as a "red herring." She found that Hyde died as a result of a restraint technique used on him by guards during a struggle.

Hyde had been repeatedly shocked with a stun gun during his 30 hours in custody. Derrick found that while the use of the stun gun did not cause Hyde’s death, the repeated shocks contributed to his deteriorating mental state.

Derrick’s report also strongly called for improved training for law enforcement officers who come in contact with people suffering from mental illness. The judge painted a clear path towards the use of de-escalation techniques in advance of the use of stun guns.

But the province seems to be struggling to find the right balance between public safety issues and the use of stun guns by officers. It has yet to finalize its guidelines for stun gun use, though Justice Minister Ross Landry said Thursday they will be released within a few weeks.

The minister did not explain why there has been a delay in issuing the guidelines or why, if only a few more weeks were needed, the province’s response to the inquiry report was not delayed so the documents could be released together.

But it speaks volumes that the use of the stun guns has already dropped by over 70 per cent since Hyde’s death in 2007, as The Canadian Press reported on Thursday.

In addressing what is now being described as an "autonomic hyperarousal state," the report released Thursday did not rule out using a stun gun on a person who may be mentally ill. But plenty of work remains to be done on the training side of the equation.

"Law enforcement officers must have appropriate tools to assist them in maintaining public safety," says the report. "At the same time, people living with mental illness may already be experiencing a high level of anxiety and the use of restraint could escalate the situation.

"The province and policing partners agree that the use of conducted energy weapons should only occur when a person’s behaviour is aggressive or violent and could harm the person or the public or the police officer. Additional direction is required regarding the restraint of individuals with mental illness."

The delay in providing that direction is not explained but Landry is clearly not comfortable with the current level of knowledge and training.

"It’s very difficult in situations where . . . there’s a high level of disturbance for the police officer to determine whether the person is suffering from mental illness," the minister told reporters on Thursday after the response was released.

In fairness to police, officers are often called on to make very quick decisions about the use of force in highly charged situations. But the death of Howard Hyde, among other cases, provides a reminder of the responsibilities that accompany the use of force, including the use of stun guns and other various forms of restraint.

There are federal guidelines available to help officers make those judgment calls and the province has said its stun gun rules will consider the federal document as well as expert advice provided by a panel of psychiatrists.

Derrick was clearly on the right track in emphasizing the need for much better levels of training. And in fairness to the province, some progress has already been made in addressing areas of concern raised in the inquiry report.

But the wheels continue to grind slowly towards the judge’s most important recommendation, adopting a provincial mental health strategy. The government is still waiting for a report from stakeholders.

It has been nearly two years since the NDP formed government and promises to improve mental health policies and services are growing stale.

Image credit

Disclosure guidelines protect privacy, improve care

An opinion piece published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald.
By Ian Slayter (pictured)

Capital Health’s Mental Health Program recognizes the need to listen better to our patients. Only the people living with mental illness can help us understand their goals and needs as they see them. For this reason, we must provide them with the information, treatment and support they need to follow their own path to recovery.

Often, care is shouldered by families — people, whether relatives or friends, who provide the emotional and practical support that is so critical to someone living with mental illness. They are one of our greatest resources because they provide timely, insightful information about a person who is becoming more ill or not responding well to treatments.

Providing families with general information about treatment and care improves their understanding of what their loved one may be experiencing. If we encourage patients to consent to share basic clinical information about their illness, treatment and needs, families are better able to help them. We know from research that working with families improves patient outcomes.

We have a duty of care not only to the patient but also secondarily to the family, as defined above, both to help them support the patient, and to help them cope with the challenges of living with, and caring for, someone with mental illness.

We have drafted disclosure guidelines, with insight from individuals living with mental illness, families and care providers to guide how and what information can be shared when the patient consents, and what is withheld when the patient is not prepared to do so.

This is all in accordance with the Personal Health Information Act and other applicable laws of Nova Scotia. We are now finalizing the guidelines in response to the extensive feedback received from stakeholders.

In an April 28 opinion piece titled "Mental health care: Are our rights to privacy being eroded?" Aileen McGinty stated that our policies, meaning the draft disclosure guidelines, "may not be in compliance with legislation." However, we have taken steps to ensure that the guidelines do follow legislation and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

She suggested the guidelines prioritize the rights of family members over the rights of patients. We respect the rights of the individuals living with mental illness and work with them to arrive at the level of consent they are comfortable with, first and foremost. There are certain situations, allowed by law, where limited disclosure may be necessary to prevent danger.

Patients’ personal health information is private and confidential. The central message of our guidelines is that care providers should explain to patients that sharing of some of their clinical information about their illness, treatment and related needs can improve the level of their support. The care providers are advised to ask if the patient wishes to consent to share particular information with designated persons.

Ms. McGinty’s feedback is helpful; we need to make certain elements clearer. We have received a lot of helpful feedback from many people. The disclosure guidelines will be available on our website, OurHealthyMinds.com, along with other supporting material.

Collaboration is a major step in improving our services. The insight we gain from individuals and families based on their experiences in our system is invaluable. The disclosure guidelines provide a process to open communication among individuals, families and care providers, while protecting and respecting the rights of individuals living with mental illness.

Dr. Ian Slayter is clinical director, Adult General Psychiatry Services, Capital Health Mental Health Program; and assistant professor, Dalhousie University, department of psychiarty.

Also see:

CDHA Mental Health Program Disclosure Guidelines - DRAFT - 30 March 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taser guidelines still in works

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Justice minister promises rules resulting from Hyde inquiry will be released soon

By Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

More than three years after the jail cell death of a mentally ill man, the province’s Justice Department has yet to introduce new guidelines describing when peace officers can use Tasers.

Howard Hyde died on Nov. 22, 2007, after a struggle with guards at a Halifax-area jail. His tragic story attracted national attention because Halifax police Tasered him multiple times during a psychotic episode about 30 hours before he died.

In December of last year, provincial court Judge Anne Derrick released a fatality inquiry report that concluded the Tasering did not cause the death of the 45-year-old musician, who had long suffered from schizophrenia.

However, Derrick did find that the Tasering worsened Hyde’s rapidly deteriorating mental state, and she recommended that stun guns should not be used to immobilize emotionally disturbed people unless crisis intervention techniques have failed.

In its formal response to Derrick’s report, the provincial government said Thursday its revamped guidelines are still being finalized.

Justice Minister Ross Landry [pictured] said he is still concerned about the ability of police officers to recognize mentally ill people in distress.

"It’s very difficult in situations where . . . there’s a high level of disturbance for the police officer to determine whether the person is suffering from mental illness," Landry, a former RCMP officer, told a news conference.

Landry said he had hoped to have the guidelines ready before the government issued its response to Derrick’s inquiry. He didn’t say why there was a delay, but he confirmed the new rules will be released within two weeks.

During Derrick’s fatality inquiry, which lasted 11 months, Halifax Regional Police argued that its officers are trained not to stun anyone until de-escalation techniques have been tried. But Derrick rejected that position, saying police policy and the province’s standards made no mention of this requirement.

Despite the absence of new guidelines, the government’s response indicates police have already changed the way they use so-called conducted energy weapons.

Since 2007, the year Hyde died, police use of the type of stun gun used on the man has dropped by 74 per cent in Nova Scotia.

Landry said the dramatic decline was the result of a growing body of knowledge about the weapon. He said police were still learning about the impact of the weapon in 2007 when a medical examiner declared Hyde’s death was caused by a condition known as excited delirium.

The condition, also known as autonomic hyperarousal, is characterized by increased strength, paranoia and suddenly violent behaviour marked by profuse sweating and an elevated heart rate. Hyde demonstrated most of the traits in the hours before he died.

However, Derrick’s report rejected excited delirium as the cause of death, finding instead the death was caused by Hyde’s struggle with jail guards. The judge concluded the guards applied restraint techniques that may have interfered with Hyde’s breathing.

Kevin MacDonald, the lawyer representing Hyde’s sister, Joanna Blair, said his client was troubled by the fact that the government’s response says that police and corrections officials require a clear understanding of how conducted energy weapons may affect people in an autonomic hyperarousal state.

"There appears to be a suggestion that the police be trained to recognize the symptoms of (excited delirium) when . . . judge Derrick’s report states that the province should not emphasize in its policies or training the phenomenon of excited delirium," MacDonald said in an interview.

"It’s significant because excited delirium . . . can be used as a justification for the use of force, which is what happened in Mr. Hyde’s case. I think it’s wrong that they’re taking this position. It’s contrary to what judge Derrick found, and it indicates there’s not an acceptance of the cause of the death."

In her inquiry report, Derrick said she agreed with one expert who testified that citing excited delirium as a cause of death resulted in Hyde being "identified as the culprit."

"(Derrick) specifically cautioned police officers . . . from looking for signs of excited delirium," MacDonald said. "And here is the province suggesting they’re going to train them in recognizing it."

Most of Derrick’s 80 recommendations called for improved training, more funding for mental health services and better co-ordination and communication between justice and health officials.

On Thursday, Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said the province has already implemented some of the judge’s recommendations, but some will have to wait because the government has yet to receive a final report from a committee appointed last year to draft a provincial mental health and addictions strategy.

"There are a number of actions and activities that are very significant that will make a real difference for people who are suffering from a mental illness," MacDonald said, adding that 911 dispatchers have been given a standardized checklist that will help them recognize mental health issues.

Among other things, the province has increased crisis intervention training for police and health-care professionals, and it has established a new, psychiatric intensive care unit at the East Coast Forensic Hospital near Halifax.

As well, a new mental health and justice committee has been appointed, and the province is spending $4 million this year on residential units for people recovering from mental illness.

Aside from the money for the residential units, the province provided no other cost estimates.

Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, said the government’s moves represent an important first step.

"There’s a lot of work to be done yet," he said after the government report was released. "Things have changed immensely because of (Howard Hyde’s) death . . . I think that things are going to change substantially."

Also see:

Province Releases Plan to Improve Care in Custody

Building Bridges: Improving Care in Custody for People Living with Mental Illness

Hyde Fatality Inquiry

Image credit

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tony Power - Healing Expressions

Accompanying text from YouTube:
Tony Power an amazing Newfoundland artist who lived his life with mental illness, had painted for twenty years as an outlet for his self expression and personal healing.

Tony is no longer with us but he is remembered for his talent, grace and quiet spirit. Tony was an active painter with Healing Expressions. The organization formed for those with mental illness and addiction in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. All are welcome at Healing Expressions.

Also see:

The man with the beautiful soul

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia’s 3rd Annual Road to Recovery Walkathon

Held on Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Your presence
had a strong impact on reducing stigma

Your presence
motivated our community to learn more about mental illness

Your presence
has inspired others to take action

Your presence was IMPORTANT!

The funds raised during the first three Road to Recovery walkathons have been crucial in allowing the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia to carry out its mission of improving the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia. Your support is vital to continuation of the extensive and important work of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. Your support is essential to the delivery of the educational and support programs such as Strengthening Families Together, Your Recovery Journey, and the From Recovery to Discovery Peer Support Group. Your support is IMPORTANT!

There is still time to make a donation in support of the 3rd Annual Road to Recovery Walkathon! To do this, please click here and then click "Make a Pledge" for a specific person, or click here to make a general donation.

Please click on any photograph to magnify it.

SSNS – Recovery is Possible!

Major Sponsors

Gift-In-Kind Sponsors

Please click on the sponsor logos to be directed to their websites.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Media Advisory - 3rd Annual Road to Recovery Walkathon

A media advisory issued today by the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia:

Please click on the image to magnify it.

Also see:


Mental Health Commission of Canada praises investments in mental Health by New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador

A media release issued today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
CALGARY, May 5 /CNW/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is applauding the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador for their recent commitments to mental health. "I am so pleased to learn of these announcements," said Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. "These commitments reflect the important steps taken by several provinces to transform their approach to mental health," she said.

New Brunswick has released a new action plan for mental health, with a vision for all New Brunswickers to have the opportunity to achieve the best possible mental health and well-being. The plan includes a range of initiatives such as the introduction of recovery-oriented treatment teams in communities across the province, cultural safety training and the promotion of mental fitness and resiliency early in life. The MHCC had the opportunity to participate in the province's Mental Health Strategy Advisory Committee alongside New Brunswick stakeholders. (Read the New Brunswick action plan at http://www.gnb.ca/0055/pdf/2011/7379%20english.pdf)

In its latest budget, Newfoundland and Labrador has committed 8.7 million dollars to mental health initiatives, including an awareness campaign to fight stigma, an e-mental health program and peer support. MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley welcomed the chance to participate in discussions with Newfoundland and Labrador's Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council related to the province's mental health planning. "I look forward to working with the Council on an ongoing basis," Bradley said. (Read the Newfoundland and Labrador budget details at: http://www.budget.gov.nl.ca/budget2011/default.htm)

The MHCC is currently developing a mental health strategy for Canada and continues to work directly with provinces and territories on the details. (For more on the MHCC strategy, please visit http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/Pages/Strategy.aspx)

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for transformative change. Our mission is to work with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to promote mental health and help people who live with mental health problems lead meaningful and productive lives. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada. For more, visit www.mentalhealthcommission.ca

The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.

For further information:

Nujma Bond, MHCC Communications, 403-385-4033

IWK 4 South Inpatient Mental Health Partners in Care Committee Newsletter - May 2011

Please click on the image to magnify it.

To download the entire newsletter (PDF), please click here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mental health session draws ideas, skeptics

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
Committee seeks input from people affected by addiction, other issues

By Pat Lee, Staff Reporter

A public session on how to improve services for those with mental health or addiction issues elicited lots of input Tuesday on where the system needs improvement and a healthy dose of skepticism about the exercise.

While those attending the afternoon-long session in Halifax agreed there is an urgent need for a better way to treat and support those with mental illness or addictions, especially among the young, some said the problems have been studied for decades.

"These are the same issues that have being going on for 25, 30 or 40 years now," one person said. "What’s going to be different?"

Terry Taylor of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, which was handed the task of running the consultations, said he’s not surprised by the skepticism.

"A question we’re asked, not infrequently, (is), ‘What’s different now?’ " Taylor said.

He said people should be optimistic that change will occur because Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald, who struck the committee a year ago, is "100 per cent committed and passionate about this issue. She has said publicly that she would like this to be her legacy."

Tuesday’s gathering was one of six public consultations organized by the committee that is charged with creating the province’s long-awaited mental health and addictions strategy. The committee is composed of a dozen health experts, researchers, mental health clinicians and people living with or affected by mental illness.

During Tuesday’s session, interest peaked when the discussion turned to the need for improved addiction services around the province, particularly for young people.

Of the 134 beds set aside for the treatment of alcohol or drug addiction, none are specifically for young people, Taylor said.

Many in attendance said it’s next to impossible to get help for mental illness or addiction unless someone has reached a crisis point.

It’s well known that a child in a mental health crisis will not be seen at the IWK Health Centre unless they are thought to be suicidal, Dr. Bob Frederickson said.

"That has to be publicly stated because that’s crazy," he said.

Dr. David Pilon, program leader of specialty mental health services for Capital Health's mental health program, said his staff is overwhelmed. He said 80 or so clinicians assess and treat more than 600 new referrals a month, on top of many other specialty treatment and programs offered at the hospital

"We have reached a critical point where we’re up against a wall," he said. "Less than four per cent of the total health care budget goes to mental health and it no longer computes."

"Psychiatric and addiction care is one of the worst services we have in Nova Scotia," said another physician, who did not want to be named.

"We need more timely access. My perception is that the system is mired in paperwork and passing the buck and working nine to five."

Along with public input, the committee is seeking input from health-care providers, government agencies, non-profit groups and any others involved with or impacted by those with addictions or mental health concerns.

Taylor said the information gathered, which will result in recommendations sent to government sometime in the fall, comes on the heels of work done by Senator Michael Kirby in the area of mental health advocacy. Closer to home, there has also been the Hyde Report by Judge Anne Derrick.

While the report on Howard Hyde, a [man with schizophrenia] who died after struggling with jail guards, focussed on dealing with the mentally ill within the justice system, Taylor said the report also highlighted the need for an infusion of funding within the mental health care system as well as other related recommendations.

Along with the public meetings, including one this Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater, Taylor and his group have met with 67 other groups and plan to talk to about 40 more before the end of the month. The group expects to hear from about 1,000 people before it’s done.

People can also provide input online or through the mail. For more information, go to bit.ly/kCWwE2 or call 424-4043.


Photograph by Eric Wynne / The Chronicle Herald

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Patient referrals and the law

From an article published in the January 2010 edition Psychiatric Services:
It is increasingly plausible that not referring [mental health] patients to recovery- and rehabilitation-oriented groups — to self-help groups, supported employment, supported education, and other similar community participation and consumer-run programs — may now raise liability issues, whereas such referrals may have been viewed as risky decades earlier.
To read the entire article (PDF) please click here.