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It is possible to have good mental health and live the life you want while living with a mental illness.
If you are struggling, you can take meaningful steps that will help you get back to a place where you feel well and can thrive, today.
The experience of recovery is rarely an event that happens in a single moment. Most often, it is a journey that takes place over a period of time.
Sometimes this journey is brief, other times it may be lifelong; however, it all starts with a single, hopeful step towards better health, managing change, reaching goals, and maintaining hope requires personal effort as well as support from knowledgeable and trustworthy connections.
As you search through the content below, our hope is that you find the opportunities, resources, and support you and your loved ones need to live well.
How do you know if you need help?
Sometimes the need for help is obvious, and getting it is as simple as phoning for an ambulance or a fire truck. At other times, it can be hard to admit help is needed. This is especially true when your emotions are involved. The problem may be anything from what to do about an aging and increasingly helpless parent to a serious emotional problem such as depression. Here are some of the reasons you may decide you need help:
- You find yourself feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anger or despair, and you cannot enjoy life anymore.
- You used to be healthy, but now you are always feeling a bit sick and you are missing more and more time from work.
- Your finances are out of control, and you are worried about being able to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage payment.
- You cannot “get over” the death of someone you loved very much.
- There is too much conflict at home. You are afraid your marriage may break up.
- You are drinking too much or having some other kind of drug problem.
- You are feeling suicidal.
What kind of help is available?
There are many different kinds of assistance available, and you should be able to find the help you need within your community through the following sources:
Psychologists | Counsellors | Social Workers
Psychologists and psychological associates help people solve problems with mood, behaviour or relationships. They perform assessment of, and provide diagnoses and treatment of mental health difficulties for children, adults, couples, and families who present with cognitive, emotional and behavioural challenges. They also perform psychoeducational testing for individuals with learning difficulties. They may use therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), behavioural therapies.
They may work as part of an agency, or in “private practice” (which means they will require payment from the client, or the client’s private or work insurance).
Here is a list of publicly funded and private practice professionals
You may find it helpful to join a self-help group. These groups provide the mutual support of people who have all had similar experiences. For example, there are groups for people suffering from depression, grief, the trauma of sexual assault, eating disorders, and phobias (a phobia is an irrational, crippling fear of an object, animal or situation).
Other Community Services
You may find that some of your problems can be solved by assistance from agencies outside the mental health system. Sometimes, practical help, such as home nursing care, Meals On Wheels or subsidized door-to-door transportation for people unable to walk, will greatly reduce the stress in your life, either as a care-giver or as a disabled person. To find what local services may be available to you can contact Toronto’s Find Help Information Services by dialing: 211 or searching their web directory:
Help from Friends and Others
Sometimes, the help of a trusted family member, a close friend or a member of the clergy for your religion can be a source of support. People close to you can also point you in the direction of the help you need.
Crisis is self-defined, but it can be:
- A time of difficulty or change
- A disruption or breakdown in your daily living pattern.
- A temporary inability to cope by your usual ways of problem solving.
- A feeling of being out of control.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate assistance:
Call or Text:
- Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167 [toll-free]
- Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team: 1-902-429-8167
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 | Text CONNECT to 686868
- Call or Text 9-8-8
Going to the Emergency Department
Sometimes going to an emergency department is necessary. It can be a very distressing. Because it can be a distressing experience, we want to help you understand what will happen there.
When you arrive at the emergency department you will go through steps of care:
- Triage: A nurse or paramedic will ask you why you are there and take your temperature.
- Registration: Clerical staff will ask questions like where you live, do you have insurance.
- You will then be placed in the queue; the sickest patients are seen first.
- A nurse will also ask you questions about what is wrong.
- An emergency physician will spend more time with you asking questions and examining you. You then may see a specialist if necessary.
- Bring your health card with you (insurance card if from out of country), however, you will not be turned away without it.
- Dress in layers and bring a sweater, it is sometimes cold.
- Bring a book or magazine, the waits are often long.
- Bring some money for the vending machines or food vendors.
- Bring your phone and charger if that is important to you.
- To ensure you get the right care, you may have to speak to several healthcare providers in the department, the staff knows how taxing this can be and appreciate your patience.
- If you are not sure of something, ask.
- The physicians and nurses cannot share your health information without your permission so please be open and tell them everything; it’s the only way they can provide good care.
Looking for mental health resources? CMHA NS offers a list of curated, up to date, relevant resources on our Resource Page.