N.S. to spend nearly $1M annually on adolescent outreach expansion

More than 4,000 youth in northern and western Nova Scotia have accessed the adolescent outreach program since the expansion this fall.

Program aimed at helping youth cope with issues like addiction or mental illness

Health Minister Randy Delorey. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

More junior high and high school students in Nova Scotia are now able to access mental-health support through an adolescent outreach program aimed at helping youth cope with issues like addiction or mental illness.

The adolescent outreach program, originally called CaperBase, started in Cape Breton in 2009 and expanded last fall to include 41 schools in western and northern Nova Scotia.

Health Minister Randy Delorey said Thursday that the province will spend almost $1 million annually on the expansion to bring on 11 new mental health and addictions staff.

"Youth can either formally or informally on individual basis, either through a referral or drop-in basis, connect with co-ordinators and staff in schools who have the training as counselors or social workers and they can then provide individualized support," Delorey said in a phone interview.

The program also offers group programming, such as Free2BU and Finding Balance, to help youth learn coping mechanisms and communication skills.

Since the launch of the expansion, more than 4,000 youth accessed the program in the northern and western zones.

"We know mental-health issues present often in youth and like other chronic conditions you live with them throughout your life and the earlier you can identify, the earlier you can start building the tools and the treatments necessary to live a healthy life," Delorey said.

The youth mental health outreach programs are operated by the Nova Scotia Health Authority. The new locations began accepting clients last fall.

About the Author

Aya Al-Hakim

Reporter

Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at aya.al-hakim@cbc.ca.