A panel of eight experts have been appointed to examine the province’s approaches to mental health and addictions.
The panel will make recommendations that will help in the short term and will suggest new approaches to help shape the next mental health strategy.
“Nova Scotians need to know mental health care and addictions support is a priority in our province,” said Starr Dobson, panel co-chair. “I believe the implementation of this panel reinforces that, while providing hope for the more than 200,000 Nova Scotians who are currently living with mental illness and their families.”
Co-chair Dr. Stan Kutcher agrees Nova Scotia can do things differently.
“Nova Scotia is well-positioned to be a national leader in mental health care,” said Dr. Kutcher. “The key to that is putting the existing evidence-based innovation into place.”
The panel will look at early intervention and approaches to enhance community support. They will also identify innovative practices used in Canada and around the world that could help here.
“We invest $275 million every year in mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia. We’ve made progress in improving the system, but the need is growing as more people seek help,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.
“Our panelists have tremendous expertise in all aspects of the mental health field. I know they will bring great ideas, and I thank them for agreeing to take on this challenge on behalf of Nova Scotians.”
Panel members are:
— Dr. Stan Kutcher, co-chair, Sun Life Financial chair in Adolescent Mental Health, Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre
— Starr Dobson, co-chair, president and CEO, Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia
— Dr. Allan Abbass, psychiatrist and founding director of the Centre for Emotions and Health, Dalhousie University
— Nancy Beck, mental health consultant; senior advisor of mental health at Sambandh Health Foundation, India; former director, Connections Halifax
— Joe Bishara, registered counselling therapist and school counsellor, Tri-County Regional School Board
— Sharyn Chapman, registered nurse and former community mental health nurse
— Sara Goguen, mental health blogger and advocate
— Todd Leader, owner and consultant, Leader Development, and psychologist, Saint Mary’s University
The panel will also review the latest research from the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Michael DeVenney, a Halifax entrepreneur and business owner who has learned to manage depression and anxiety, says new approaches are necessary to help others live successfully with mental illness.
“If we can be innovative about it, we don’t have to overweight the medical system,” said Mr. DeVenney.
The panel has been appointed for a two-year term and will report to the minister at least twice a year.