News release

First Chief Officer of Office of Mental Health and Addictions Appointed

The provincial government has appointed Dr. Sam Hickcox as Nova Scotia’s first chief officer of the new Office of Mental Health and Addictions.

Dr. Hickcox, currently the physician lead for addictions medicine at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, will be responsible for planning and providing strategic oversight of mental health and addictions policy development. He starts the new role July 1.

“Dr. Hickcox has both clinical experience and a passion for advocating for a broader understanding of mental health issues and addictions. I am pleased to see someone of his calibre take on this important new position,” said Premier Iain Rankin. “Under the leadership of Dr. Hickcox, this new office will provide the coordination across agencies, departments and partners to improve programs, access and health outcomes.”

Government announced the province’s first Office of Mental Health and Addictions in February, reflecting a commitment to a more proactive approach in dealing with mental health and addictions.

“This is a critical time for governments, community organizations, health-care workers and other stakeholders to come together to find solutions to some of the complex issues we are facing with mental health and addictions care,” said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “I look forward to working with Dr. Hickcox as we transform the system and break down the stigma and barriers to ensure Nova Scotians get the care they need and deserve.”

Dr. Hickcox, a resident of Halifax, has played an active role in the overall strategic planning of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Mental Health and Addictions Program. He is also the medical director of the Atlantic Mentorship Network for Pain and Addictions, which has given him experience in policy and program development. As a clinician, Dr. Hickcox has developed a passion for addressing stigma, the impact of marginalization and the social determinants of health.

Quotes:

Over the past year, we have borne witness to the courage, compassion and resilience of so many Nova Scotians as we face the unprecedented challenge of this global pandemic. This year has served to amplify the mental health and addiction challenges for many of us, highlighting the need for us to come together as a province and work to address these issues as a community. It is my honour to play a part in the work we have before us. Dr. Sam Hickcox, incoming chief officer, Office of Mental Health and Addictions

Quick Facts:

  • government’s investment in mental health and addictions has increased to $336.5 million this fiscal year
  • 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
  • Nova Scotians can self-refer to the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Community Mental Health and Addictions clinics, Withdrawal Management Services, or Opioid Replacement and Treatment Programs, using the Mental Health and Addictions Intake Service Line; the service line is toll-free and is available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-855-922-1122
  • the Mental Health Crisis Line receives an average of 20,000 cases each year and as a result of the pandemic, managed 25,000 in 2020

Additional Resources:

Province of Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions: https://novascotia.ca/dhw/mental-health/

Nova Scotia Health Authority Mental Health and Addictions services: https://mha.nshealth.ca/en

IWK Health Centre Mental Health and Addictions: http://www.iwk.nshealth.ca/mental-health

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Media Contact:

Marla MacInnis
Cell: 902-499-6428 Email: