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Mental health association launches COVID-19 fundraiser to keep up with 'alarming' increase in demand for support in Nova Scotia

'There are so many new elements that are being introduced to people's lives that they are finding it hard to manage,' says Pamela Magee
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Nova Scotia's division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA-NS) has launched a fundraising campaign in hopes of increasing staff for mental health support phone lines and expanding online mental health resources

Pamela Magee is the Executive Director of CMHA-NS, and says COVID-19 has caused a surge in demand for mental health support. 

"Every day we receive an alarming increase in the number of calls from Nova Scotians," she says. "It's happening in our division, but also across our branches, and in partner agencies and organizations as well."

Responding to the demands of the situation means a range of challenges for families and individuals. Magee says while it's important to respect the efforts to address COVID-19 including things like physical-distancing and working from home, it does put further strain on people's mental well-being.

"There are so many new elements that are being introduced that people are finding it hard to manage," she says. "It is a normal reaction to such an abnormal situation." 

According to Magee, it's not just those with a history of mental health challenges who are having a tough time. 

"We are receiving calls from healthy individuals at a divisional level and it just has to do with the circumstances," she says. "We are being asked to do a lot of things that are not common for day-to-day functioning."

While the CMHA-NS is working hard to support those who reach out for help, it's struggling to keep up with the growing demand. The COVID-19 Caring Together fund aims to raise money for additional support. 

"The donations will go right back into the tools, resources, and programs we offer through division and branches to help people stay healthy while they are trying to protect themselves during the pandemic," Magee says. 

The CMHA NS is asking people to donate what they can to keep its programs and services up and functioning. 

"We will accept as little or as much as anyone can provide at this moment," she says. "We understand we are one of many asking for financial support."

More than ever before, Magee says it's important for those with mental health conditions and those at risk, to have the support they need.

"If our mental health isn't grounded and maintained than we can tip over into a state of anxiety, and depression, that would require support from the formal health care system," she says. "It is an urgent need to keep people healthy."

According to CMHA one in three Canadians will experience mental health issues in any given year, but it expects that number to increase in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

If you need help, find out how to get it at novascotia.cmha.ca



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Katie Hartai

About the Author: Katie Hartai

In addition to being a reporter for NEWS 95.7 and HalifaxToday.ca, Katie is the producer of The Rick Howe Show
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