Free mental health supports set up for Nova Scotians struggling with multiple tragedies

Mental health supports available amid N.S. tragedies
WATCH: Mental health supports being offered free to Nova Scotians

Maritimers are known for their resiliency, but 2020 has been a tough year and it’s testing the regions’ strength.

“It’s been a devastating time for people,” said Dean Perry, a clinical psychiatrist at St. Martha’s hospital in Antigonish, N.S.

READ MORE: N.S. sets up help lines for citizens struggling amid mass shooting, pandemic

For their own safety and others, Nova Scotians have been self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, only to witness the worst mass shooting in Canada’s history.

Nova Scotians want to come together and grieve in person but are unable to.

With the several Nova Scotia connections in the tragic crash of the Canadian Armed Forces helicopter in Greece, it’s only deepening the sense of grief.

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But Perry said there’s help available.

The province is offering free mental health supports for all Nova Scotians by activating a roster of psychologists to help the province’s grieving population.

“It has been shown to be helpful to be able to share an experience and to talk about it and to bounce it off someone else and get some feedback,” said Perry.

“It is important to take it out of your own head, as some people say, and reach out to people.”

Make time to take care of your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic
Make time to take care of your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

All Nova Scotians have access to a free psychological support session, and there’s a toll-free number you can reach out to.

Musician Adam Baldwin says he’s feeling the weight of the tragedies as well, and that he’s benefited from mental health supports in his life and is an advocate for getting help.

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“It seems everybody was one person removed from somebody immediately affected by that [mass shooting] tragedy and this helicopter crash is the same thing,” said Baldwin.

“It really hurts. It hurts that so many people are hurting right now.”

Baldwin is hosting an online concert Friday night, he’s been holding a live-streaming concert series called “Cross Country Chin-Up,” and this week he’s partnered with the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia to raise funds for their mental health support programs.

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“When you take that first kind of step and you ask for help and you admit that you need help or you are hurting, the weight of the entire planet lifts off your shoulders,” said Baldwin.

Senator and doctor Stan Kutcher is a psychiatrist and says this is a tough stretch for those afflicted by the recent tragedies.

READ MORE: Province relaxes COVID-19 restrictions to allow Nova Scotians to get outdoors

Those most affected are dealing with the loss of a loved one says Kutcher but others can still be affected by the grief.

“We learn to adapt to our environment and we learn to become more resilient through going through struggles,” said Kutcher. “That’s how we are built as a species and how we are built as humans, and we are built to go through struggles together and not to go through struggles alone.”

Nova Scotia has just announced the removal of some restrictions and have opened provincial and municipal parks — timing that Kutcher says is impeccable.