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IWK Foundation announces $1-million donation from Bell Let’s Talk to support emergency mental health care within redeveloped IWK Emergency Department


IWK Foundation accepting donation

HALIFAX, NS (Oct. 4, 2023) – Today, the IWK Foundation announced a generous $1-million gift from Bell Let’s Talk that will change the way patients requiring emergency mental health services are cared for in the IWK Emergency Department (ED).  

This gift will support a dedicated mental health space in the new IWK ED. It will include its own waiting area and will be separate from the general patient areas. This space will provide a therapeutic, private and confidential environment for children, youth and families —optimizing emergency mental health and addictions assessments, while helping to reduce stigma and barriers often associated with seeking treatment for mental health and addictions.  

“Bell is proud to play a role in providing cutting-edge mental health care to young people from across the Maritimes by creating a mental health and addictions area within the IWK Emergency Department,” said Mirko Bibic, President & CEO, Bell Canada. “The new waiting room will contribute to the quality of care at what is a difficult time for youth and their families and make a real difference as to whether or not they seek treatment in the future.”

As the only accredited level one trauma centre east of Quebec, the IWK Emergency Department has provided services for children, youth and families throughout the Maritimes for almost 40 years. The IWK Emergency Department continues to experience record-breaking patient visits, including those requiring mental health care. When the current ED was developed, it was not designed with the mental health patient population in mind.  

“We continue to see a consistently high number of crisis visits to the IWK Emergency Department for mental health and addictions (MHA), and about 25 percent of these patients require admission for inpatient MHA care,” said Dr. Alexa Bagnell, Chief of Psychiatry, IWK Health. “Research in stigma and trauma informed care shows that experience in the Emergency Department impacts how patients and families feel about seeking future mental health care. The new Emergency Mental Health and Addictions area will provide a safe, private space for our patients and families in an environment that complements the exceptional care from our well-trained emergency mental health and addictions clinicians and physicians.” 

“Donors like Bell Let’s Talk will play an integral role in bringing the new IWK Emergency Department to the standard that Maritime patients and families have come to rely on and expect – an environment that is consistent with the philosophy that makes the IWK the special place that it is,” said Dr. Krista Jangaard, President & CEO, IWK Health. 

The IWK is one of only several hospitals across Canada where medical and psychiatric care are fully integrated in the Emergency Department. The IWK ED is the only 24/7 emergency child and adolescent psychiatry service in the Maritimes and the Mental Health and Addictions program’s gateway to acute inpatient care. 96 per cent of patients cared for at the IWK Garron Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health (acute inpatient care) are admitted directly from the IWK ED. 

“With a partnership spanning nearly three decades, Bell Aliant has been a long-time, valued supporter of the IWK and the IWK Foundation. Today’s announcement builds on our shared commitment to improving the provision of emergency mental health care and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness,” said Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Foundation. “We are immensely grateful for the continued support of Bell to make this dedicated emergency mental health space in the new ED a reality, providing a comforting environment for patient families at a time when they are most worried.” 

The IWK Foundation is privileged to work in partnership with IWK Health and the Province of Nova Scotia on this essential redevelopment. The IWK Foundation’s goal is to raise $26.5 million to support the purchase of specialized equipment as well as specific facility upgrades, enhancements and research. 

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About the IWK Foundation

The IWK Foundation is a champion of excellence in women's and children's health and medicine and works in partnership with IWK Health to support their vision of providing quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime Provinces and beyond. Our donors are passionately committed to making a difference for Maritime families, contributing over $19.4 million in support of the most urgent care priorities at the IWK last year.

Funds raised also support the IWK's global leadership in research and knowledge sharing, which in turn improves lives worldwide. Visit for more information. 

About IWK Health 

About IWK Health: IWK Health is the Maritime region's leading health care and research centre dedicated to the well-being of women, children, youth and families, in all their diversity. In addition to providing highly specialized and complex care, the IWK provides certain primary care services and is a strong advocate for the health of families. The IWK is a global leader in research and knowledge sharing, and a partner in educating the next generation of health professionals. Visit for more information.

About Bell Let’s Talk 

As the largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let's Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars — Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership —and is a driver of Bell for Better. Since its launch in 2010, Bell Let's Talk has partnered with more than 1,400 organizations providing mental health services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit  

Media Contacts 

Sarah Greening  
Writer, Communications & Public Affairs 
IWK Foundation 
P: 902.266.3306 

Katie Hatfield 
Senior Manager of Communications 
Bell Aliant