A Dartmouth woman says mental health services in Nova Scotia let her down when she was most in need of help.
Candice Creese says she has battled anxiety and depression for more than a decade, but her condition spiralled when she recently gave birth to her daughter. She says she was struggling with postpartum depression.
"I wanted to get on a plane, I wanted to get on a bus,” she says. “I wanted to leave my family because I felt like I was putting a tremendous burden on them."
As someone who worked as a mental health advocate, Creese says she took all the right steps. She knew where to go for help. She saw her family doctor, went repeatedly to the emergency room, and was referred to the IWK Health Centre's reproductive mental health service.
When she learned the IWK clinic was closed for three weeks, things deteriorated rapidly.
'The doctor told me to come back when I was actually going to kill myself and they sent me home.' - Candice Creese
"I went back to the emergency room and I started having intrusive thoughts of suicide,” she says.
“The doctor there told me that she couldn't do anything for me. The IWK was the best place for me. I had to wait for it to reopen and that to come back when I was actually going to kill myself and they sent me home. "
Creese says she and her husband felt as if the system was working against them.
Health department says no one should be turned away.
"And I actually watched him sit down in front of his food and break down and cry over his meal,” Creese recalls. “I asked him what he was so upset for and he said, 'I just don't understand why they're not helping you. And why we keep getting turned away.'”
Starr Dobson, president of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, is sympathetic.
'I would just like her to know that there is certainly hope.' - Starr Dobson
"That's not the way the system works or the way the system is designed to work," she says.
“My heart goes out to her... I would just like her to know that there is certainly hope.”
The Nova Scotia Department of Health says it can't comment on specific cases but Ken Scott, director of mental health,
says no one in crisis should be turned away.
"Our expectation is that the districts provide mental health and addictions services in an appropriate manner, in a timely fashion so we can meet the needs of Nova Scotians,” he says.
Creese hopes telling her story will mean others don't share her experience.