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ORLE 225 - Understanding Mental Wellness : Accessing Supports

Mental Health Supports

The following section outlines a variety of mental health supports, explaining their roles and the treatments they can provide, to help you navigate how to access services that help.


Education:  Medical Doctorate with a specialty in Psychiatry

Workplace:  Some private practice, most work for the health authority

What they can do for you: Although some Psychiatrists do some therapy, most see patients long enough to diagnose them, prescribe medication, and refer them on for treatment

When needed: When chronic Mental illness or disorder is suspected.  No other Mental Health Professional can do complete diagnosis and prescribe medication.


General Practitioner

Education:  Medical Doctorate

Workplace:  Family Practice, Health Centres

What they can do for you:  Assess needs, consider other medical factors, diagnose common mental health challenges, prescribe medication, refer to other services, provide follow up

When needed: When mood and functioning are impaired, either acutely or for a longer duration.



Education:  Master or Doctorate of Psychology

Workplace:  The NS Health Authority (e.g. in NS, Mental Health & Addiction Services), private practice, Centres for Education, post-secondary health centres, counselling agencies, or in research settings

What they can do for you:  Services range from clinical therapy to psychological testing and assessments (e.g. learning disabilities or differences). Psychologists are able to diagnose, but not prescribe medication.

When needed:  When needing treatment for ongoing mood, behavioural, learning or relationship challenges. Can be referred by self or others.


Counsellor/Therapist/Clinical Social Worker

Education:  Master of Counselling, or Social Work

Workplace: Private practice, EFAP, NS Health Authority, Centres for Education, post-secondary health centres, student services departments, or counselling agencies.

What they can do for you:  Clinical therapy, wellness promotion. Cannot diagnose but do have training in understanding diagnoses and best practice treatments. Are qualified to administer some assessment tools.

When needed:  When you feel things are just not right, you have experienced trauma, or a major life event, are dealing with grief, relationship issues, feelings of depression/anxiety or want to make a change in your life.


Mental Health Nurse/Nurse Practitioner/Occupational Therapist

Education:  Bachelor or Master of Nursing, or MSc in Occupational Therapy

Workplace:  Hospital, private or community health centres

What they can do for you: Treatment planning, support and follow up, often working in conjunction with other supports.

When needed:  When you are unable to engage in your normal daily activities.



Education:  Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, or Doctorate of Pharmacy

Workplace:  Community pharmacies, hospital and specialty clinics (diabetes, etc.). Also accessible by phone at your local pharmacy. The Bloom Program provides support to patients with mental health or addictions diagnoses.

What they can do for you:  Providing education and resources about prescriptions, non-prescription medications and medical conditions. Prescription renewals as allowed by province.

When needed:  When you have questions about medications, medical conditions or general health. If you need a refill of your medication but cannot see your physician, your pharmacist can renew that prescription for you.


Support Groups/Peer Support

Education:  May have training from host organization, or be strictly grassroots.

Workplace:  In the community and online.

What they can do for you:  Find support and understanding, education and help navigating mental health systems.

When needed:  If you are concerned about your own, or someone else's mental health and would like to talk to someone who 'gets it'.

Additional Resources