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


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