News release

Mental Health Investments Improving Wait Times for Crisis and Urgent Care

Recent investments in crisis and urgent care services are helping to reduce wait times for people who most need mental health services.

The most serious situations are when people are experiencing a mental health crisis. They now have faster access to emergency care through the 24/7 provincial Mental Health Crisis Line as well as crisis response teams at regional hospitals throughout the province.

The next level is considered urgent. In these situations, people should be seen within seven days or less, based on best practices. Currently, 96 per cent of adults assessed as urgent are being seen within this target, up from 85 per cent last year. In eastern, northern and western zones, 95 per cent of children and youth are being seen within seven days, up seven per cent from last year. For children and youth served by the IWK Health Centre, 99 per cent are being seen within three days or less.

“We are listening to the experts and making targeted investments to improve access to mental health and addictions services for Nova Scotians,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “We are pleased to see progress being made in this area and we’ll continue to work to further improve access to care.”

Some of the investments government has made to help people and their families get care faster include:

  • created 10 more health-care positions to expand mental health crisis and urgent care teams across the province and at the IWK Health Centre – allowing health professionals to respond to people who need crisis and urgent care for mental health and addictions issues faster
  • enhanced the provincial Mental Health Crisis Line with system upgrades and hired more health-care professionals, which means all calls are responded to more quickly.

The Mental Health Crisis Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing crisis response for children, youth and adults anywhere in the province. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should call the line toll-free at 1-888-429-8167.

Quotes:

Evidence tells us that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis respond best when receiving care where they are and as soon as possible. Additional resources dedicated to our services are helping us meet the needs of individuals and their families throughout the province within the standard of seven days or less. Matt White, health services manager for crisis services, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA)

Government’s investment has meant a significant improvement in wait times for urgent care services at the IWK. This means children, youth and their families who need urgent access to care are able to receive the right level of treatment and navigation services at the right time. Glenna Rose, clinical manager, Emergency Mental Health and Addictions Services, IWK Health Centre

Quick Facts:

  • $1.6 million is being invested each year to improve mental health crisis and urgent care services in Nova Scotia, and the total investment in mental health and addictions this year is $295 million
  • the Mental Health Crisis Line receives an average of 1,700 calls each month and 20,100 each year
  • the level of care people need is assessed and determined by health-care professionals, and there are three levels: emergency, urgent and non-urgent
  • access to other mental health supports and services is being improved through initiatives including hiring 22 new clinicians in mental health and addictions clinics, and expansion of SchoolsPlus and Adolescent Outreach Services/CaperBase
  • the funding comes from the Canada-Nova Scotia Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addiction Services Funding Agreement

Additional Resources:

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Media Contacts:

Heather Fairbairn
Health and Wellness 902-717-2151 Email:
Nova Scotia Health Authority
Provincial media line: 844-483-3344 Email:
Nick Cox
IWK Health Centre 902 470-6345 or 902 225-1781 Email: