Sunday, December 29, 2013

TED Blog -- 2013: The Year in Ideas

From a December 19th TED Blog posting:
It’s time to get personal about mental illness.

1 in 4 people in the world lives with some form of mental illness, and yet, the stigma remains. In 2013, several speakers stepped to the TED stage to share their personal stories of mental illness. Eleanor Longden explained what it’s like to have voices in her head. (Read her TED Book, Learning from the Voices in my Head.) Kevin Breel took us inside his world, giving “confessions of a depressed comic.” Just this week, Andrew Solomon spoke poetically about his experience with depression, and how he sees it a secret many people share. Punctuating it all — a talk from Thomas Insel [below], the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, on how moving from the term “mental disorders” to “brain disorders” could open up research possibilities.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This holiday season, please give your support to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia




To make an online tax-deductible donation to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, with an immediate tax receipt sent to you by email, please click here.

For information about the programs and services of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, please click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Report of the Independent Panel to Review the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act and Community Treatment Orders - Nova Scotia


A report released by the Government of Nova Scotia on December 12th.  For the media advisory related to the release of this report, please click here.



Please click on the image to magnify it.

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


Also see:

Nova Scotia mental health concerns flagged

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Examining the Nova Scotia mental health system


Dr. Michael Teehan, President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, is interviewed by Global Television just prior to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia's 25th annual conference held on November 15th, 2013. The theme of the conference was "Mental Health Services in Nova Scotia: What We Have and What We Need".





Also visit:

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia's 25th Annual Conference: What We Have and What We Need

Friday, November 15, 2013

Please consider joining the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia




As a provincial not-for-profit community organization, the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (SSNS) relies heavily on its members to continue working – through education, support programs, influencing public policy, and encouraging research – to improve the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis. When approaching the Nova Scotia Government and other decision makers, we are empowered by our grassroots membership.

The SSNS provides a much needed community-based network of knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers to support Nova Scotians directly affected by schizophrenia and psychosis, as well as their family members, friends, colleagues, and communities. Our core belief is that people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and psychosis can live a life of meaning and purpose. The focus of the SSNS is to promote the goal that each individual will be able to return to a quality of life meeting each person's own perception of needs and expectations.

The vision of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia is:
  • to reach all Nova Scotians who are directly or indirectly affected by schizophrenia and psychosis;
  • to focus on the individual, not the illness;
  • to promote wellness and recovery; and
  • to reduce the stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and misconceptions so often associated, unfortunately, with mental illnesses.

To read about some of the specific work the SSNS does, please click here. Additionally, the SSNS will begin work focused on providing education & support services to residents of Cape Breton Island starting in September 2013, with a dedicated full-time staff member working out of Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.

Annual individual membership is provided upon receipt of a tax-deductible donation of a minimum of $15.00 to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia. You can renew you membership by filling out the Membership Form (PDF) available by clicking here and mailing it, along with a minimum donation of $15.00 to:
Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia
Room B-23, Purdy Building
P.O. Box 1004
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3Z9
If you prefer to obtain your SSNS membership by making a secure tax-deductible online credit card, Interac, or PayPal donation, please click here. You will receive an immediate tax receipt by email. Please type the words SSNS Membership in the “Message/instructions for Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia” box that appears when making your online donation. If you would also like to opt-in to membership with the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC), at no additional cost, please type the words SSNS Membership and SSC Membership in this box. You can also note your chapter or support group affiliation in this box.

A final option is to obtain your SSNS membership by calling the provincial office at (902) 465-2601 or 1-800-45-2601 (toll-free in Nova Scotia) and using a Visa or MasterCard over the telephone. 

Thank you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Media Advisory from the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia




November 14, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

Media Advisory – Video, Photo, and Interview Opportunity

What: 

Mental Health Services in Nova Scotia: What We Have and What We Need

Who: 

Dr. Rudolf Uher of Dalhousie University, recently co-authored a study which found that the risk of severe mental illness in the sons and daughters of a parent living with the illness may be underestimated. Rather than the widely cited figure of 1 in 10 for the risk for familial transmission of severe mental illnesses, his research found that around 1 in 3 children of parents – one or both of which have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder – will develop such a disorder themselves by early adulthood.

In order to provide early intervention to reduce the risk of severe mental illness in these young people, Dr. Uher has launched the “Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-Being” program in Nova Scotia. “We are working on programs that will help young people at risk for severe mental illness stay healthy,” says Dr. Uher. “At the end of this study we hope to identify the problems that young people need help dealing with, and how they can learn the skills that will improve their chances for well-being and reduce the risk of mental illness.”

Dr. Michael Teehan, President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University, will lead off the conference with a presentation entitled “Mental Health Services in Nova Scotia: What We Need”. The CPA, the national voice for Canada's 4,500 psychiatrists, says that recovery is possible if evidence-based treatments are available. “Treatments work if patients have access,” says Dr. Teehan. “Close to 100 per cent of my early psychosis patients have at least a partial response to treatment. For many, the response can be quite dramatic. They can go back to school, go back to work, and lead productive lives. What many people don't understand is that with adequate treatment and other supports, people do get better.”

Other presenters include Mr. Jacques Hendlisz who will be providing an update on the challenges and opportunities in developing the Transformational Research in Adolescent Mental Health (TRAM) Network; Dr. Phil Tibbo who will be speaking about early intervention within the context of the programs and services delivered by the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program; Mr. Roy Muise who will be talking about the new Nova Scotia Certified Peer Support Specialist Program, Dr. Alissa Pencer, a clinical psychologist at the IWK Health Centre who will be speaking about the importance of readily accessible psychological services to recovery from mental illness; and representatives from L’Abri en Ville in Montreal, including people with lived experience of mental illness, who will be talking about the benefits of long-term housing with social supports. Ms. Starr Dobson, President and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, will be the morning conference emcee.

When: 

Friday, November 15, 2013, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm

Where: 

McInnes Room, Student Union Building, Dalhousie University, 6136 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Conference Website:


www.ssns-conference.com

About the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia works to improve the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia through education, support programs, influencing public policy, and encouraging research.

In addition to the offices located in Dartmouth and Port Hawkesbury, the society has chapters or support groups conducting weekly or monthly support group meetings in Cumberland County, Halifax Regional Municipality, Kings County, Lunenburg County, and Pictou County.

Media Contact

Dr. Stephen Ayer
Phone: (902) 465-2601
Cellular: (902) 237-0018
Email: ssns@bellaliant.com

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Healthy Minds Cooperative Newsletter - November 2013



Please click on the image to magnify it.

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

Also see:

Healthy Minds Cooperative

Websites referenced on page 4 of the newsletter:

Transitions

Because Your Mind Matters Youth Education Program

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nova Scotia Certified Peer Support Specialist Program




From the Healthy Minds Cooperative's May 2012 newsletter:

It's Official

The Department of Health and Wellness has chosen Healthy Minds Cooperative to oversee the advancement of the Nova Scotia Certified Peer Support Specialist Program!

Healthy Minds Cooperative has demonstrated a long term commitment and belief in peer support since our inception in 2005. We believe peer support is an integral component of recovery for people living with mental illness. Our organization has been a pioneer in delivering formal peer support on inpatient units since 2006. This ground breaking work was happening at a time when peer support was virtually unknown. It is incredible to know that beginning in 2013 it will now be available in health districts across our province.

We extend a sincere welcome to Roy Muise, the Peer Mentor for the NSCPSS program as part of our Healthy Minds team. Well known and respected Roy brings his extensive work with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, work with PSACC, a vast knowledge of peer support and many years’ experience delivering peer support. Joining Roy in this exciting work will be Vince Daigle who has 7 years’ experience providing formal peer support on an inpatient unit, Michael Smith and Irene Skehen. Together the entire Healthy Minds team possess unique and valuable skills that amount to about 40 years’ experience working in the field of mental health. When you add the soon to be newly certified peer specialists, that will be delivering peer support to every health district in the province to this team there is no doubt that there will be hope and recovery for many. The Department of Health and Wellness is committed to improving the mental health and wellness of all Nova Scotians. They listened to the people of Nova Scotia and developed the first ever mental health strategy for our province. Thanks to their vision and support the reality of individuals having access to peer support will expand and become a reality across our province.

Also see:

Nova Scotia Certified Peer Support Specialist Program

Healthy Minds Cooperative

Peer Support Accreditation and Certification (Canada) [PSACC]

N.S. puts $1 million into mental health program

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Family Support Group - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


Wednesday, January 29th, 7:00 pm




The HRM Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

hosts the

Dartmouth Family Support Group


When a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness, or you feel there are mental health issues not being addressed, it can be overwhelming. Many families find that talking with others who have had similar experiences to be very beneficial. This new support group provides an opportunity to learn about resources in the community, navigating the mental health system, strategies to promote recovery and enhance coping skills, and much more.

Meetings are held the last Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is ...


Date
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Time
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Place
Alderney Gate Public Library
Starr Room
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia


For further information, please contact Donna Methot by phoning (902) 462-8658 or sending an email to hrmchapterssns@accesswave.ca.


Photograph by Robert Alfers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Perceived need for mental health care in Canada: Results from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health (September 2013)




By Adam Sunderland and Leanne C. Findlay

From this webpage:
Background

Past research and national survey data on Canadians’ perceived need for mental health care (MHC) have focused on unmet needs overall, and have not considered specific types of MHC needs or the extent to which needs are met.
Data and methods

Using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health, this article describes the prevalence of perceived MHC needs for information, medication, counselling and other services. The degree to which each type of need was met is explored. Associations between risk factors for having MHC needs and the extent to which needs were met are investigated.
Results

In 2012, an estimated 17% of the population aged 15 or older reported having had an MHC need in the past 12 months. Two-thirds (67%) reported that their need was met; for another 21%, the need was partially met; and for 12%, the need was unmet. The most commonly reported need was for counselling, which was also the least likely to be met. Distress was identified as a predictor of perceived MHC need status.
Interpretation

Many Canadians are estimated to have MHC needs, particularly for counselling. People with elevated levels of distress are significantly more likely to have unmet and partially met MHC needs than to have fully met MHC needs, regardless of the presence of mental or substance disorders.
Keywords

Mental illness, mental disorder, distress
Findings

Many Canadians experience a need for mental health care (MHC), but not all of those needs are met. In fact, the presence of mental illness has repeatedly been associated with an MHC need, despite evidence-based practices suggesting that mental illness can be successfully treated. Rates of unmet needs were higher among people with the criteria for mental illness, especially those with depression. This is relevant considering that, in 2012, an estimated 10% of Canadians experienced a mental disorder (depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or alcohol, cannabis or substance abuse or dependence) in the past year. [Full Text]
Authors

Adam Sunderland and Leanne C. Findlay (1-613-951-4648; leanne.findlay@statcan.gc.ca) are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.
What is already known on this subject?

Many Canadians experience a need for mental health care (MHC), but not all of those needs are met.
Past research and national survey data on Canadians’ perceived need for MHC have focused on unmet need overall, and have not considered specific types of MHC needs or the extent to which needs are met.

What does this study add?

Based on data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health, an estimated 17% of the population aged 15 or older reported having had an MHC need in the past 12 months.
Two-thirds (67%) of them reported that the needs were met; for another 21%, the needs were partially met; and for 12%, the needs were unmet.
The most commonly reported need was for counselling, which was also the least likely to be met.
Distress was associated with perceived MHC need status.
To download the entire article (PDF), please click here.

Also see:

Mental and substance use disorders in Canada (September 2013) (PDF)

Mental Health Profile, Canadian Community Health Survey - Mental Health (CCHS), by age group and sex, Canada and provinces (2013)

Response to the release of Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health 2012 by the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Friday, September 13, 2013

Schizophrenia Society of Canada - 2013 Annual Report



Please click on the image to magnify it.

To download the entire Schizophrenia Society of Canada 2013 Annual Report (PDF), please click here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Whispers - A collection of poems by Brian Malay



Published by Gaspereau Press, Whispers is a collection of poems written between 2000 and 2009 by Brian Malay (1983-2010).

Compiled and edited after his death, Whispers provides insight into the joy of what it means to be fully alive and seeking answers to everyday mysteries, as well as the pain and sorrow of Brian’s truly exceptional nature.

From his early years until the last days of his life, Brian expressed himself through his writing. He was an imaginative free thinker whose poetry reflects a keen sense of his own world and the world about him.

Although Brian lived with schizophrenia, his diagnosis did not disable him; conversely, he worked harder at his writing and discovered it to be a wonderful expression of his creativity. Ultimately, poetry simply flowed from him, thus making him a true master of the written word.

Brian’s mother, Cindy Crowell, is kindly donating proceeds from the sales of Whispers to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

To place an order for Whispers, please mail a $20.00 cheque made out to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, along with the address to which the book should be shipped, to:

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia
Room B23, E.C. Purdy Building
P.O. Box 1004, Station Main
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3Z9

Orders with payment by credit card are also accepted. Please call the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia at (902) 465-2601 or 1-800-465-2601 (toll-free in Nova Scotia).


Portrait of Brian Malay by Jared Malay. Please click on the image to magnify it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sale on the novel: "Playing the Genetic Lottery"




An email received by the SSNS today from Terri Morgan, author of the novel Playing the Genetic Lottery:
May is Mental Health Awareness month in the United States, and as an author of a novel about schizophrenia and an advocate for reducing the stigmas surrounding mental health issues, I've offering a special on my novel. Would you please share this information with your members? I think they would appreciate hearing about this great discount on a book that validates many of their experiences.

Thanks, Terri

As you know, understanding mental illness is one of the big keys to reducing the stigmas that surround it. The stigmas that prevent people from talking about mental illness, and even worse, prevent people from seeking help when they need it. One out of every four people will be affected by mental health issues at one point in their lifetime.

In my mind, that makes it even more urgent to educate people about mental illnesses and dispel many of the myths and misconceptions surrounding it.

As the author of a novel about schizophrenia, I worked hard to weave in accurate information about mental illness and the impact it has on families into my book in an effort to raise compassion for people who are living with mental illness and reduce some of the stigmas.

That's why I'm offering a special price to people who download my novel, Playing the Genetic Lottery, during the month of May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. From May 1-31, people can download my book, which is a fictional memoir about a woman who grew up with two parents living with mental illness, for just CDN $1.01. To take advantage of this special, please click here.

For more information about the novel, please check out my website at terrimorgan.net.

Why reduce the price by 2/3rds? Because reducing the stigmas, to me, is more important than making a few extra dollars on each sale.

Also see:

Book Review by Ashley Smith

Playing the Genetic Lottery | Psych Central

A Housing Strategy For Nova Scotia




From a May 6th social media release by the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services:
More Nova Scotians will find affordable housing that meets their needs as part of the province's first long-term housing strategy. Premier Darrell Dexter and Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse unveiled the strategy today, May 6, during a visit to the North Woodside Community Centre in Dartmouth.

Quotes

"Our homes, and the communities they are part of, shape nearly every aspect of our lives -- health, education, success in the workplace, even the security of our retirement and dignity in old age. Yet many working families cannot afford rent, let alone a mortgage, and many seniors and people with disabilities lack good housing options."
Premier Darrell Dexter

"Our strategy will build vibrant communities, revitalize existing neighbourhoods, and offer affordable new housing choices to Nova Scotia families."
Premier Darrell Dexter

"Few things are as important as having a good, affordable home that meets a person's unique needs. Through collaboration, we have developed a strategy that sets out a new direction for housing -- one that stresses affordability, partnership and community-building. The right housing choices can mean safer, more sustainable, and more vibrant communities."
Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Minister of Community Services

"Shelter Nova Scotia is pleased to see a collaborative strategy that espouses a housing first model. We have seen first-hand the benefits this model has had on the men and women we serve."
Don Spicer, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia

"It is a challenge but we must build more housing that people can afford. We must not continue to equate big with better when we discuss housing options. This strategy is a bold and innovative roadmap in that direction."
Paul Pettipas, president of the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association

"I am so grateful to own a home that my children grew up in. I believe this is something we all wish for. It is because of the work that community and private organizations do that I was able to own my own home while my children were young enough to live there. Programs that give more Nova Scotians a chance at affordable home ownership or rent is good news."
Karen Cole, a single mother who purchased her home through Habitat for Humanity

Quick Facts
  • The strategy represents a fundamental shift in the province's approach to affordable housing.
  • Over the next 10 years, the development of affordable housing and affordable home ownership will substantially increase and will focus on diverse communities with different housing and tenure types, income levels and family composition.
  • $500 million over 10 years will go towards supporting new and enhanced affordable housing projects and programs.
  • The strategy was built on themes that emerged from provincewide public consultations held in 2012 with more than 500 Nova Scotians, including non-profit and community organizations engaged in housing issues, housing developers, governments, and interested Nova Scotians.
  • The strategy will restructure the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation and all housing staff in Community Services as Housing Nova Scotia.
  • Among the programs that Housing Nova Scotia is considering are down payment assistance, lease-to-own opportunities, a graduate home ownership program, and retrofit programs

Also see:

Download the strategy (PDF)

Download a plain text version (PDF)

Learn more about the consultation process

Information, pictures and videos from the launch event

Monday, May 6, 2013

5th Annual Road to Recovery Walk - Halifax, Bridgewater, and New Glasgow


Held on Saturday, May 4th, 2013

In Halifax, Bridgewater, and New Glasgow

Supporting Families as Partners in Mental Health Care






Walking Together to Raise Awareness


For further information visit:


To make a donation in support of the 5th Annual Road to Recovery Walk, please click here.

To read an article about the Walk posted online by The Chronicle Herald, please click here.













Please click on any photograph to magnify it.



In Partnership With



 Sponsors




Photographs by Stephen Ayer.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Demystifying the Mental Disorder Defence - with Professor Archie Kaiser

A presentation made on April 17th, 2013, at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University.

From this website:
People with mental health problems face persistent stigmas; when they come into conflict with the law, they often face minor charges and tend not to fare well in our justice system. Less frequently and only in the most serious cases, some accused persons choose the highly-publicized-but-not-well-understood “mental disorder defence.”

In this lecture, we’ll talk about the difficulties people with mental health problems face in our justice system and take a detailed look at the mental disorder defence. What is it? When can it be used? How does it work? And if successful, what does it mean for the accused?




To download Professor Kaiser's PowerPoint Slides, please click here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Heart to Heartwood

An article published in today's edition of The Coast:
Part of the Mayworks Festival, Heartwood is a play that takes an honest look at one woman’s experience with schizophrenia.

By Kate Watson


The Doppler Effect’s Annie Valentina (left) and actor-writer Laura Burke (right).


It's a grey, damp Saturday in Halifax, and Theatre Nova Scotia's Living Room space on Agricola appears hushed and dark as well. Inside, Annie Valentina and Laura Burke have put in a long day of rehearsal on Burke's one-woman show Heartwood, and they're winding down.

Burke, a pig-tailed blonde sporting graceful feathered earrings and casual clothes in muted shades of grey and brown, is a playwright, actor, spoken word artist and soon-to-be licensed drama therapist. She has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Heartwood, which opens April 29 at The Bus Stop Theatre as part of the Mayworks Festival, is the story of Burke's journey from her diagnosis almost eight years ago, when she was a theatre student at Concordia University, through some very dark days of depression and psychosis to her eventual recovery and ongoing life with the disorder.

"There's no doubt that schizophrenia totally changed the trajectory of my life," says Burke. "I was at a point in my life where I was just beginning to feel like I was starting to be a real actor. Then I lost my ability to feel, to remember words, to be on a cognitive emotional level. I had to let go of the expected trajectory."

At first, doctors struggled to find exactly what was ailing Burke, and she describes the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia as being both "a huge relief" in that she finally had an answer and "a real downer" because she felt saddled with a stigmatizing label.

Over the course of her recovery, challenging that stigma became very important to Burke, and she discovered that using creative means such as poetry and drama offered an effective way to do that. "I'm hoping that by writing about my experience with schizophrenia and sharing it with others, I'll be able to help people to reduce their own shame about it. I want to normalize it.

"It can be scary how people want you to be either a victim or a hero," she says. "I'm just a human wanting to be fully human."

The original version of Heartwood was written as Burke's masters' thesis, and Valentina, who is artistic producer with Halifax theatre company The Doppler Effect, became interested in the project when she directed a workshop version of it in 2012. That version evolved, with the help of Burke and local theatre artist Mary-Colin Chisholm, into a piece that was presented at the Douglas Psychiatric Institute in Montreal and at a psychosis-themed conference in Ottawa.

"There were no plans for production of it as a play at first, but I fell in love with the script and the concepts in it," recalls Valentina. Michael McPhee, creative director of The Doppler Effect, "and I both felt it was a really good project to take to the next theatrical level. It offers a gorgeous theatrical experience. The poetry of the writing and the imagery in it are simply gorgeous."

One of the most arresting recurring images in Heartwood is a tree which grows out of Burke's rib cage, a tree that stands for the challenges we all face and the burdens we all bear. "The tree represents something broader than mental illness," explains Burke. "Our past and suffering grows out of us and takes over. We often try to prune it back, but I think we just have to learn to grow with it and build something out of it."

Burke smiles and pulls a brilliant red coat around her shoulders. As she steps out onto the quiet street, a ray of sunshine bursts through the cold, grey sky.

Photograph by Ashley Marie Pike

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nipping it in the bud: Can Psychiatrists Prevent Mental Illness?


Held March 27th, 2013



Please click on the image to magnify it.

To download a PDF version of the above flyer, please click here.

Video of the debate will be posted at a later date and will be viewable by clicking here.

Also see:

https://blogs.dal.ca/psychdebates/

The ultra-high risk concept - a review

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crisis line handles mental health issues

An article published in the February 26th edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Michael Gorman, Truro Bureau

TRURO — Nova Scotians dealing with mental health concerns can now call a single number at any time to get help.

The Mental Health Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-888-429-8167, Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson [pictured] announced Tuesday.

“Having … a number that anybody in Nova Scotia can call, I think will be positive,” he said.

The number connects callers to licensed clinicians with expertise in social work, nursing or occupational therapy.

Being able to call the number from anywhere in the province will help those with mental illness, including those living in isolated areas, get help, the minister said.

Geoff Alcock agreed.

Recalling his own experiences with mental illness, the patients’ rights adviser and peer support specialists said such an option would have been helpful.

“The isolation of mental illness is bad enough when within reach of a psychiatric facility,” said Alcock. “In the rural areas, it’s a huge burden to bear.”

Often friends and family aren’t sure what to do or who they can call in times of need, he said.

In his own case, Alcock said “the problem was that there was no assistance or help whatsoever for my wife.”

“She had absolutely no idea as to what to do or who to turn to in the event of me experiencing a suicidal crisis. She was very much left in a lurch.”

Having one number that anyone can call should increase awareness while making sure the people who need help receive it, Alcock said.

The province is putting $190,000 into the line, which will hire two more full-time people, bringing the total to 11. Wilson said he feels confident the increased staff will be able to meet the demands of the entire province.

“We’ll keep evaluating it. If down the road we need to (re-examine) this and potentially look at supporting it more, we’ll do that.”

The province will now focus on promoting awareness of the crisis line, said Wilson. He said it compliments the 211 system, which provide’s access to social services, and the 811 system, which sees about 100,000 people calling it each year to speak with a nurse.

(mgorman@herald.ca)

Also see:

Access to Mental Health Services now Available Province-wide


Photo credit