Nova Scotia

Clinic to treat veterans and RCMP with stress injuries opens in Burnside

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr was in the Halifax area Monday to officially open a new federally funded clinic for both retired and serving members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP.

Clinic specializes in treating anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD

Lisa and Douglas Cochrane are glad to see the clinic open. (CBC)

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr was in the Halifax area Monday to officially open a new federally funded clinic for both retired and serving members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP.

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury clinic opened in November in downtown Dartmouth but recently moved to its permanent location in Burnside.

The clinic specializes in treating anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It will assess, diagnose and treat active members of the armed forces, veterans, as well as active and retired RCMP personnel.

The permanent location of the Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury clinic in Burnside. (CBC)

It's a welcome facility for Lisa and Douglas Cochrane of Halifax. Douglas Cochrane was exposed to PCBs during his time in the armed forces. He also suffers from chronic pain and can't work.

"It's immense," say Lisa Cochrane. "Because mental health supports in the community are very limited."

She says without the clinic, vets like her husband would have to rely on provincial or private care.

"You get by, and this way at least there'll be access to people who can certainly teach you how to get by and not be another statistic," she said.

"That's pretty frightening when you look at the members who aren't receiving the assistance they need and go on to believe that there's no other alternative than taking their own lives."

The clinic requires clients to produce referral from either the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces Health Services or Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr at Monday's official opening. (CBC)

After that, they're contacted within 48 hours and triaged over the phone.

Eventually, eligible clients will be assigned a primary clinician and their treatment will begin.

Derek Leduc, manager of the clinic, said it currently has 50 clients.

"We're adding a couple each week and we're continuing to expand," he said.

The new OSI clinic in Burnside is one of two in the Maritimes — the other is in Fredericton — and is one of 11 across Canada.

"It's going to go a long way to help people struggling with mental health and service-related injuries," Hehr said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.

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