Program pioneered in province

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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It has garnered interest all over Canada, and is now being piloted in Thunder Bay, Ont., but it started here in northern Nova Scotia.

It has garnered interest all over Canada, and is now being piloted in Thunder Bay, Ont., but it started here in northern Nova Scotia.

Developed and tested in Cumberland, Colchester/East Hants and Pictou counties, the Family Help program helps families and children with mild to moderate problems with behaviour, attention deficit hyperactivity, anxiety, recurrent headache and abdominal pain or bedwetting, as well as women struggling with postpartum depression.

What is unique about the program is that it is provided to families via the telephone, an idea developed by Dr. Patrick McGrath and started by the IWK Hospital and Dalhousie University in 1999.

"They came to mental health services and the province with the idea of doing telephone-based mental health care, and we thought we'd have a look at it," recalled Cathy Thurston, director of Cumberland Mental Health Services."we put some seed money in to get it off the ground, and started developing the behaviour module first."

A research study was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, while the HRDC branch in Amherst provided a grant to develop web-based manuals for the program.

Eight years later the program continues to grow and meet success, according to Thurston.

"One of the things many mental health critics said was that you couldn't have a good relationship over the phone, but research has shown that not to be the case at all," she said.



awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: IWK Hospital, Dalhousie University, Cumberland Mental Health Services Canadian Institute of Health Research HRDC

Geographic location: Canada, Thunder Bay, Northern Nova Scotia Cumberland Pictou Amherst

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