Mental health difficulties in older adults are often considered a normal part of aging. This simply is not true. Seniors can face circumstances that have an impact on their mental health, such as physical ailments, reduced income and limited mobility. Illnesses such as depression, anxiety and dementia are common.

For a number of reasons, seniors often do not get the help and support they need to manage mental illness. The decision to seek professional help can be tough. It can be difficult to know what to do or where to go.

Options for getting help

Family doctor. A family doctor is the first line of help. They will work with you, a family member, friend or client to identify the cause of symptoms, and to rule out any physical illness that may be contributing to the problem. If needed, a family doctor can prescribe medication to treat mental illness.

Community Mental Health
. A family doctor may recommend mental health support. They may refer you to one of the Capital District Mental Health Program’s community mental health teams. A referral is not needed, however.

Contact a clinic directly

Bedford:
865-3663

Cole Harbour:
434-3263

Dartmouth:
466-1830

Halifax:
454-1400

West Hants:
792-2042



Seniors Mental Health supports seniors whose mental health needs cannot be met by a family doctor or community mental health team. For instance, seniors who are having mental health difficulties for the first time and have physical ailments affecting their mental health may be referred to our team. We may also be consulted for those experiencing psychiatric symptoms in combination with dementia.

People access Seniors Mental Health mainly through a family doctor. Other healthcare professionals or family members may contact us directly to arrange for a referral.

Call 464-6054 in Dartmouth or 473-7799 in Halifax.

Our team

Seniors Mental Health is a team of health care professionals committed to helping seniors manage mental illness and improve their mental health. The health care professionals include:

  • Nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physicians in family medicine, geriatric medicine and psychiatry
  • Psychologists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Social workers

Each health care professional brings unique skills to the health care team. Our team provides assessment and consultation. During an assessment, a mental health professional asks a series of questions to determine a person’s mental health difficulty, reasons for it, determine treatment options, and provide support. The team provides advice and education to family doctors and other healthcare professionals as consultants. The team also communicates regularly with the family doctor.

Seniors Mental Health offers a number of services. These include outreach, outpatient clinics, group therapy, education and training, and in-hospital care.

Outreach mainly includes visits with seniors in their homes, including long term care facilities. Home visits extend from Sheet Harbour to Windsor, and include mental health assessment, treatment and follow-up. Treatment often involves therapy and medication to help clients better manage mental illness. Members of the Seniors Mental Health Team may continue with home visits for a period of time during and after treatment to further support clients and their families and caregivers.

Outreach also includes providing education on seniors mental health to caregivers, healthcare providers and family members. Seniors with mental health difficulties often benefit greatly when they, their family members, caregivers and/or healthcare providers are well-informed about mental health and available treatments.

Outpatient Clinics
offer assessment and treatment. They are located at the Abbie Lane Building and the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, and the Mount Hope Building, on The Nova Scotia Hospital Site in Dartmouth.

Group Therapy sessions are available to seniors experiencing depression and/or anxiety. The groups run for a number of weeks. Once seniors complete the group therapy sessions, they continue to receive support from their family doctor or other healthcare provider.

Education and training healthcare providers and caregivers about the mental health needs and treatment options for seniors is a key responsibility of the Seniors Mental Health Team. The team hosts training workshops and education sessions for healthcare providers.

In-hospital services are available for seniors whose needs cannot be adequately met through community-based services. The goal is to provide treatment and support to help seniors stabilize their mental illness and return to their prior living environment. The team works with patients and families to address the illness, identify and meet education needs, provide support, plan for discharge from the hospital and to make ongoing follow-up arrangements. In-hospital services are relatively small, supporting 19 seniors and their families at any one time.

More information on seniors and mental illness:

The Canadian Mental Health Association: Ontario