A statement on access to mental health care


In regards to the tragic incident in Upper Big Tracadie, Guysborough County, our hearts go out to family and friends, and our thoughts are with the community during this difficult time.

As this sad news continues to reverberate through the community, we at Nova Scotia Health Authority would like to address a concern that has emerged in public discussion.

The tragedy would be compounded if anyone in Nova Scotia were to not seek care because they have formed an impression that help is not available or that they may be turned away if a facility is busy.

Help is available, in many forms. Please reach out if you have concerns about your mental health or that of a loved one.

No hospital turns away anyone who requires admission as assessed by a psychiatrist. If no bed is available in a person’s community, a bed is found elsewhere. All beds across Nova Scotia are provincial beds available to anyone who needs admission. This is true of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, which has been the focus of recent attention, and every facility in the province.

Inpatient admission is not the only care available for mental health concerns. In many cases, outpatient and community-based treatment are known to be more effective in helping people manage mental illness. A triage process ensures anyone who is in serious need, but does not require emergency services, is seen quickly, usually within five working days.

Available mental health services are in fact much broader than what’s available through the formal mental health and addictions services. People can discuss their concerns with their family physicians who can decide if a referral is appropriate or if they can provide the necessary support, as many people do have supportive relationships with their primary care providers.

Residents who feel they require support in the wake of this tragedy, or at any time, can call the province-wide 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line, which is accessible at 1-888-429-8167.

Nova Scotia Health Authority takes personal privacy and confidentiality very seriously. We have an obligation to protect personal health information under provincial legislation and cannot answer questions or release details on specific individuals.