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Dartmouth mental health co-op encourages people to take advantage of free services

Nobody showed up to public meeting offering ways to access free wellness services, but NSHA says it’s not about the numbers

4 min read
caption The empty boardroom at Healthy Minds Co-op
Feleshia Chandler

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) teamed up  with the Healthy Minds Cooperative Wednesday to invite Dartmouth locals to learn how to access free wellness services.

But no one showed up.

“Maybe because it was just a general get-to-know your community health team (meeting), maybe if it had been a topic that people can personally relate to. Normally we do have good turnouts for our programs,” said Gina Hanley, a NSHA community health team member and the host of Wednesday’s meeting.

Each neighbourhood in Nova Scotia has their own team and are able to reach out to their local team for services.

There are four community health teams in total, including the Dartmouth one. The other teams represent the Bedford area, the Chebucto area and one on the Halifax peninsula.

“I’m in a navigator role right now. The other piece of my job besides facilitating programming is to connect people to resources,” said Hanley.

Hanley, who has a background in occupational therapy, helps facilitate mental wellness programs. She said wellness is more than mental health, it’s physical as well.

“Wellness is a huge topic, but for me, wellness is really about that concept of, you can still have a chronic condition but be well. It’s about living the best life that you can where you’re at,” said Hanley.

Services offered by community health teams include weight loss management and diabetes prevention, mental health and parenting resources and guidance on ways to be more physically active.

“I’m here today because I was invited. Maybe bringing our programs to Healthy Minds might introduce it to people that aren’t familiar with us by doing it in a familiar space,” said Hanley.

Even though this is the first time Healthy Minds has collaborated with NSHA’s community teams, the organization itself has been around since 2005.

caption The back wall of Healthy Minds decorated in positive messages.
Feleshia Chandler

Brad Rowe, resource navigator at Health Minds Cooperative, said the organization offers workshops and support groups for men and women.

“It’s not about, ‘Hey, we’re here to fix you.’ We’re here to have a conversation.” said Rowe.

Even though no one came out for this particular event, Rowe doesn’t doubt the effectiveness of his organization doing collaborative meetings like these.

“Rather than me handing them a flyer and saying, ‘Call Gina,’ it puts a human face on it,” said Rowe. “I’m hoping that people will feel comfortable accessing these programs. We never quite understand the challenges people face and the effort it takes to show up for a talk.”

Hanley agreed. She said she wasn’t disappointed by the turnout and was just happy to be able to connect with the staff at Healthy Minds.

At the end of the day, Hanley said it’s not about the numbers.

“At every interaction, regardless of numbers, something can be done to move things forward,” said Hanley. “Numbers are just one indicator of things and I focus on that all the time.”

Hanley says these events happen frequently and aren’t stopping anytime soon.

“There are people who have lived here their whole lives and don’t know who we are or how to access these services,” said Hanley.

“To me it’s to keep us relevant and to hear what the community needs are and to make sure we’re actually providing what people need.”

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About the author

Feleshia Chandler

Feleshia is a freelance journalist who has contributed to the Coast and Quench Magazine. She enjoys writing about feminist issues, LGBTQ issues...

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