You have several choices to get help.
Talk to your Family Doctor or General Practitioner (GP)
This is the first step to get into the Public Mental Health Service in Nova Scotia.
They will be able to:
- give you information about resources
- answer questions about mental illness, and help you to diagnose you
- order diagnostic tests (to rule out other possible causes of symptoms, may include blood tests)
- talk to family members to identify needs and to identify support resources
- refer you to specialized mental health support within the public health system
- provide you with medication to manage or relieve your symptoms
- monitor progress and recovery
- work with you to test your progress and make a plan
Find Services in Your Community
Many people know about resources or support services in your community, they can explain how to access mental health services in Nova Scotia. For more information, talk to your:
- settlement agency
- family resource centre
- community health team
- 211 - for community and social services
- 811 - for health information
Some people worry about talking about their mental health challenges with a service provider because of the fear of their private life being exposed to others. Others are worried that the police or security agencies could learn about their mental health condition, because this happens in some countries around the world.
Service providers are committed to protecting the privacy of your personal health information by laws including the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Personal Health Information.
If service providers want to give out your mental health information, they need to ask your permission first. That being said, sometimes the law says it is OK to disclose your information. Service providers can share your mental health information when:
- you give your consent
- your treatment teams discuss your treatment together
- you may harm yourself or another person
- your service provider has to talk about you in a court of law
Mental Health Services and Interpretation
All publicly funded services offer interpretation services. You can ask for interpretation, or your health care provider might recommend you have an interpreter for better communication. Family doctors might use an interpreter in the office or by phone. Mental health care providers use professional interpreters to set up appointments and to communicate during counselling sessions.
Interpreters are qualified professionals who have being trained and are certified by an association on a professional basis. Interpreters are accountable for the quality of the interpretation services that they provide and for their professional conduct. Because of the principle of confidentiality, interpreters have the obligation to keep everything that is said in the session secret. Even more, your interpreter can’t tell anybody that you are accessing a mental health service.
You might feel that the best person to interpret for you is a friend or a family member. Maybe you trust this person enough to speak about your private life. However, there may be issues that you won’t want to talk about in front of someone you see every day. As well, your friend of family members are not trained and don’t follow professional standards of confidentiality and quality of service.
When you need interpretation services, ask the service provider to name the interpreters they have available. Sometimes you will have a choice of interpreters and you can choose who you will be more comfortable with. You can choose either a male or female interpreter in the same way you can ask for a male or female counsellor.
Publicly funded services can be access by all residents for free. This means that Canadians and permanent residents don’t pay any money when calling on the Mobile Crisis Team or accessing the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Programs or the IWK Health Centre Mental Health Programs.
Private psychologists, social workers, counsellors or physiotherapists are some of the independent practitioners that offer counselling services to address your mental health and well-being concerns. They provide a wide range of individual, couple and family counselling services. You don’t need a doctors’ referral to access their services.
Here are some websites to help you find a private mental health specialist:
- Registered Counselling Therapists
- Social Workers
- Family Service Association: Call (902) 420-1980 or 1-888-886-5552 (toll free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
All private practitioners charge fees for services. If possible, visit several professionals before making a decision. Ask their fees and if they have sliding scale (your income will help to determine your fee).
If you are a full time employee, you might have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can cover your appointments. Contact your supervisor or human resources staff. You might have a supplementary health care plan - talk to your insurance carrier or employer to see if you are eligible.
Information, Support Services and Mental Health Services
For additional information on mental health and related services in Nova Scotia:
Mental Health & Wellness Resources - Services that offer opportunities to make friends, learn about the services and all sort of program to help you to deal with stress and mental health concerns - Download double-sided printable version here.
- refugee claimant
- temporary foreign worker
- social workers
- sliding scale