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Virtual Mental Health Care is Now Available at the IWK Thanks to Donor Generosity

Halifax, NS (May 7, 2020) – Virtual Mental Health Care at the IWK Health Centre will now help ensure that Nova Scotian children, youth and families have increased access to quality mental health and addictions care during COVID-19 and beyond.

Thank you to lead donor Eleanor McCain who is joined by RBC Foundation and CIBC who collectively invested $300,000 into the mental health care of these children and youth. Their donations will help provide the equipment and technology required to virtually connect clinicians and patients during this unprecedented time.

One in five children and youth have a current mental health problem warranting intervention with mental health and addictions services. However, prior to COVID-19, less than one in three accessed help. The IWK Mental Health and Addictions program is now anticipating an unprecedented increase in need for services during and post pandemic.

“The sudden transition to social distancing that has moved children and youth away from normal routines and structured environments, such as school and community groups, can be devastating for many vulnerable populations,” says Maureen Brennan, Director, Mental Health and Addictions, IWK Health Centre. “We recognize that children, youth and families are experiencing a lot of changes and uncertainty in their lives leading to stress and worry. Thanks to these generous donations, the Mental Health and Addictions program will now be in a position to help minimize the impact this will have –   ensuring vulnerable patients receive the mental health care when they need it most.”

The IWK Mental Health and Addictions program has transformed many of its services to a virtual platform and continue to offer services to patients and families throughout this pandemic. Virtual care is offered by phone or videoconference and allows clinicians new innovative ways to engage patients and families in a safe, secure and private manner while adhering to physical distancing requirements. Providing access to technology addresses the gaps and barriers related to economic and geographic inequities many families face. 

Through a newly created loan program, equipment and technology will be provided to staff and families who want to engage virtually with IWK Mental Health and Addictions but don’t have access to the resources required (computers, phones or laptops). This means the IWK is able to offer care where it otherwise would have been out of reach. This technology is essential in minimizing disruption in care and treatment to prevent long-term repercussions for this population’s health and well-being.

“We are so grateful for the tremendous generosity and commitment of our donors during this unprecedented time. The need for accessible and timely mental health services for our children and youth is critical,” says Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Foundation.” Thank you for stepping up and being there for these staff, patients and families. Your impact will be truly felt now and in the future.”

This announcement is in keeping with the theme of Mental Health Week in Canada, focused on social connection, taking place May 4th to 10th. As we’re facing COVID-19 and physical distancing, it’s essential that the IWK remain connected with its patients and families to ensure optimal mental health care.

“While the IWK is providing mental health and addictions care differently, it is important to reinforce that we are not providing different care,” continues Brennan. “We have not stopped providing quality evidenced-based services since the start of the pandemic and these services will continue to be available throughout the province. This includes urgent, emergent and regular clinical operations as well as face-to-face appointments and inpatient admissions when required.”

Please call the IWK Mental Health and Addictions Intake service toll free at 1-855-922-1122. If you are experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis please call the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at 902.429.8167 or 1.888.429.8167 (toll-free).


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 the IWK Health Centre 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 more than $15 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 the IWK Health Centre

The IWK Health Centre is the Maritime region’s leading health care and research centre dedicated to the well-being of women, children, youth and families. 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.

For more information, please contact:

Lesley Gaum
Executive Lead, Stakeholder Relations and Public Affairs, IWK Foundation or 902-489-2867

Nick Cox
Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Issues Management
IWK Health Centre or 902-225-1781