Nova Scotia

Mental health walk-in clinic project in Halifax forced to shut down

A Halifax mental health walk-in clinic program is being forced to close its doors after it was unable to secure funding past the pilot project stage, according to the community health centre that operates it.

Health centre hoping to find way to fund program outside of pilot stage

Each mental health walk-in clinic would see between eight and 10 patients a night, giving people a chance to talk through tough circumstances with a social worker. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

A Halifax mental health walk-in clinic program is being forced to close its doors after it was unable to secure funding past the pilot project stage, according to the community health centre that operates it.

The Pause: Mental Health Walk-in Pilot Project started late last spring and aimed to help those with mental-health issues who are marginalized, homeless or with addictions, or those who can't wait for help for lengthy periods of time within the existing system.

"Unfortunately, there is nothing in the community right now that is as low-barrier as we were," North End Community Health Centre social worker Megan MacBride told CBC News on Tuesday.

The program, which was funded through a $27,350 grant from the province's Communities, Culture and Heritage Department, had been offering the drop-in programs Tuesday night at the North End Community Health Centre on Gottingen Street and Thursday night at the Chebucto Family Centre on Herring Cove Road.

Counsellors will see their last patients this week at both locations.

A spokesperson for the province's Communities, Culture and Heritage Department told CBC News the grant money that was used for the pilot project isn't renewable and groups need to apply for it year after year.

'Innovative service'

Marie-France LeBlanc, the community health centre's executive director, said in a news release that the centre is still working on a way to fund the program long term and hopes to find a solution some time in the spring.

The walk-in treated people with issues that ranged from trauma, anxiety and depression, to grief and the experience of social injustice, MacBride said. She said the program helped people find the right support in their community.

Sessions with counselors were each about 45 minutes long. During the run of the pilot, MacBride said they had 150 different interactions with people.

MacBride said the search for more funding has been ongoing since the pilot began.

"We created an innovative service that's clearly meeting the needs of people," she said.

When a crisis happens in the community, more people come and if the weather is bad there are fewer people, MacBride said.

She said having a stable service is crucial because the community knows it's there and can use the program when they need it.

The program was not designed for emergency care. For those cases, people should contact the existing crisis line (902-429-8167 or 1-888-429-8167) or go to an emergency room.

With files from Anjuli Patil