Nova Scotia has expanded the services it provides for people facing mental health problems.
The Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team, which has operated in the Halifax area since 2006, is now fielding calls from across the province.
The expanded program has been in operation since the end of February. Already, 10 per cent of calls to the crisis team are coming from outside Halifax.
"Often the only option was to call 911 or go to an emergency department," said Mary Pyche, program leader acute care and crisis supports for the province. "Many places in Nova Scotia, the geographic disparity, it's a long way to get to an emergency."
Pyche said the province's new FUNDS program is also easing the load for 911 and hospital emergency departments. FUNDS is an acronym for follow-up next day support.
It provides emergency help for families with children 16 or younger. Pyche said FUNDS helps keep all family members in their own homes, with the promise that a clinical social worker will follow up with them the next day.
"It supports them to be able to stay in their environment, do crisis stabilization without having to leave the home and having a further disruption," Pyche said.
"So if we can get families kind of settled, knowing that somebody's going to contact them the next day, it gives them that sense of hope that ‘yes, I can go to bed tonight, and somebody's going to call us in the morning and maybe then we can start some planning for some alternatives.’"
Pyche said she would like to see FUNDS expanded to cover people older than 16, but that would require additional funding.