Province officially opens new Halifax-based mental health centre

Shannon Johnson speaks at the centre's opening. (Communications N.S. Photo)

From a release.

HALIFAX: A groundbreaking partnership between Dalhousie University and the Province is connecting more people to mental health and addictions services – and bringing Nova Scotia one step closer to universal mental health and addictions care.

Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, celebrated the grand opening of the Dalhousie Centre for Psychological Health on September 12, at an event in Halifax.

The centre serves Nova Scotians who face barriers to accessing mental health services and adds to the list of publicly funded services that are available to Nova Scotians at no cost.

Services are provided by Dalhousie clinical psychology PhD students under the supervision of registered clinical psychologists.

Minister Brian Comer. (Communications NS Photo)


“No one should be denied healthcare because of an inability to pay – and mental health and addictions care is healthcare,” said Minister Comer. “We’re the first province in Canada to commit to universal mental health and addictions care, and there is no road map to follow.

“By working with partners like Dalhousie on initiatives like this one, we’re helping draw that map for others to follow while building a strong foundation for universal mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia.”

The four dignitaries at the announcement. (Communications N.S. Photo)

Nova Scotia is investing $4.5 million over three years to fund the centre. People are referred to the centre by community organizations and local health clinics.

Findings from this pilot project, along with community consultations and feedback from experts in the field, will be used to establish a universal mental health and addictions system.


“We’re so proud to partner with the Province to launch the Centre for Psychological Health. This pilot project increases access to addictions and mental health services for Nova Scotians in need and provides invaluable learning for doctoral students in Dal’s clinical psychology program.

The centre is a powerful demonstration of what can be accomplished when we work together to address the urgent needs of Nova Scotians.

We’re grateful to the Government of Nova Scotia for their investment and partnership to make it possible.”
     – Chuck Macdonald, Dean of Science, Dalhousie University


“My career goal is to work as a registered clinical psychologist specializing in diverse populations.

“I am excited at the opportunity provided by the Dalhousie Centre for Psychological Health to gain relevant clinical training experience in working with diverse and underrepresented members of the community, and I know it will be of great benefit to me and my fellow students as we prepare to become practising clinical psychologists.”
     – Patrick Hickey, PhD clinical psychology student, Dalhousie University

Quick Facts:
— seven part-time and two full-time registered clinical psychologists currently work at the clinic, with 30-40 clinical psychology PhD students expected to cycle through the clinic annually
— the centre is co-directed by Shannon Johnson and Alissa Pencer, both registered psychologists and faculty members in the Dalhousie’s psychology and neuroscience department
— Dalhousie’s clinical psychology PhD program has about 45 students enrolled annually
— the centre can refer people to other mental health and addictions services when necessary
— the establishment of universal mental health and addictions coverage that guarantees every Nova Scotian access to mental health professionals is an action item in Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare in Nova Scotia