Emergencies

Emergency Mental Health cases are seen immediately. If you are facing a crisis, call the Mental Health Crisis Line at 1-888-429-8167, or call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Mental Health & Addictions Adult Services

Service/Procedure Summary

Wait-times for Community Mental Health and Addictions
DHW/Office of Addictions and Mental Health, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and the IWK Health Centre are working together to improve access to mental health and addictions care and support for Nova Scotians. We are committed to having the right services, in the right place, at the right time, and delivered by the right provider for patients.

In 2018-19 we standardized the way we collect and report wait-times for Community Mental Health and Addictions out-patient clinic appointments. Wait time standards were developed and waits will be publicly reported online by triage level.

A person’s triage level is determined by their condition as assessed by clinicians working in intake or referral. In providing care and treatment based on clinical assessment, people triaged as urgent receive care before people triaged as non-urgent.

  • Triage 1: Emergency, no wait--patients immediate access to care through emergency or crisis services
  • Triage 2: Urgent, target is within seven days
  • Triage 3: Non-Urgent, target is within 28 days

Wait times for triage 2 are shown by zone. The four health zones are below.

 A map outlining the Nova Scotia Health Authority Health Management Zones 

People who require emergency care are not placed on wait lists. They receive immediate access to care through emergency or crisis services. Emergency mental health care needs should be directed to emergency departments, crisis response services, Mental Health Crisis Line (toll free at 1-888-429-8167), and First Responders (911).

Regular monitoring and reporting on wait times provides:

  • patients with information on wait times in their communities and across the province;
  • health care providers with information to compare wait times across communities and between provinces;
  • identification of problems that create delays in accessing care and solutions.

Definitions and standards

Wait 1: Number of calendar days from the date of initial referral to the date of the first attended appointment.

Wait 2: Number of calendar days between the date of the first attended appointment to the date of the scheduled first treatment appointment.

Referral
A referral is the contact made to a mental health and addictions intake or referral team by someone (or on behalf of someone) requesting to be seen by a professional mental health and addictions clinician for consultation, assessment, diagnosis, and/or treatment.

What the numbers mean:

50th percentile: For example, the maximum wait-time for five out of 10 cases says 20 days, it means that 50 per cent of people have been seen (or are expected to be) within 20 calendar days or less;
90th percentile: For example, the maximum wait-time for nine out of 10 cases says 30 days, it means that 90 per cent of people have been seen (or are expected to be) within 30 calendar days or less.

Population(s)
Adults 19 years and older with confirmed or suspected moderate to severe mental disorders, including addictions, who are experiencing difficulties in daily functioning as a result of the mental disorder. The severity of the individual’s condition can be most appropriately and safely managed in an outpatient setting. There is a reasonable expectation of someone responding positively or will experience ongoing benefit from the care interventions in this care setting.

Children and adolescents between 0-18 years (up to their 19th birthday) who present with moderate to severe symptoms of mental disorder and/or harmful substance use that significantly impact day to day functioning (i.e., moderate to severe impact).  Specifically: the presence of mental disorder and/or harmful substance use; the severity of illness results in moderate to severe functional impact on their lives; and risk level which can be addressed safely in an outpatient setting.

Community Mental Health and Addictions clinics (Outpatient Services)
Community Mental Health and Addictions clinics are outpatient services and are the largest service area within the Mental Health and Addictions program of care. Services are delivered in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, and community and are matched to the person’s presentation and need.

Services are evidence informed, time limited and delivered collaboratively by the mental health and addictions team, which usually includes the patient, caregiver, and clinician (which could include social workers, psychologist, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and nurses amongst others). Services may include: screening and assessment, goal directed group and/or individual therapy, consultation, care planning, etc. Services are voluntary and require consent for treatment. If the patient is not ready to actively engage in treatment, parents, family and/or other caregivers may be given strategies and treatment interventions to support the person who is experiencing challenges due to their mental disorder, including addiction.

NSHA provides community mental health and addictions services for adults (19 years and older) across Nova Scotia and for children and adolescents living in Eastern, Western, and Northern Zone(s). The IWK provides community mental health and addictions services for children and adolescents between 0-18 years (up to their 19 birthday) who live within the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA; http://www.capa.co.uk/) is the mental health and addictions outpatient service delivery model for children and adolescents in Nova Scotia. CAPA is a mental health care service delivery model for children and adolescents. CAPA considers the child, adolescent, and family as experts in their lives. Through shared clinical decision making with mental health practitioners, children, adolescents, and their families become stewards of their own mental health. CAPA places the child and adolescent along with their family at the centre of service organisation.

Wait times

Urgent

Facility 90% (Wait 1) 50% (Wait 1) 90% (Wait 2) 50% (Wait 2)
NSHA Central Zone
6
days
2
days
8
days
5
days
NSHA Eastern Zone
7
days
5
days
6
days
0
days
NSHA Northern Zone
6
days
2
days
7
days
5
days
NSHA Western Zone
8
days
3
days
--- ---

Non Urgent

Facility 90% (Wait 1) 50% (Wait 1) 90% (Wait 2) 50% (Wait 2)
Aberdeen Regional clinics
55
days
35
days
72
days
17
days
Cape Breton Regional Municipality
129
days
85
days
52
days
19
days
Colchester Regional clinics
42
days
9
days
183
days
82
days
Cole Harbour clinic
67
days
44
days
26
days
12
days
Cumberland County clinics
21
days
15
days
94
days
23
days
Dartmouth - Portland Street clinic
118
days
98
days
36
days
18
days
Guysborough Antigonish clinics
146
days
84
days
15
days
0
days
Halifax - Bayers Road clinic
138
days
71
days
26
days
14
days
Lower Sackville clinic
148
days
73
days
28
days
13
days
NSHA Clinical Virtual Care Team
61
days
40
days
45
days
17
days
Rural Cape Breton clinics
101
days
67
days
69
days
21
days
South Shore Regional clinics
27
days
15
days
27
days
9
days
Spryfield clinic
115
days
42
days
34
days
20
days
Valley Regional clinics
55
days
37
days
115
days
31
days
Windsor clinic
83
days
50
days
28
days
14
days
Yarmouth Regional clinics
31
days
16
days
15
days
0
days