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Telecare: 811
Poison: 1-800-565-8161
5850/5980 University Ave., Halifax, NS B3K 6R8

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Mental Health and Addictions - Frequently Asked Questions

How is a referral made to the Mental Health Outpatient Programs?

A referral is made by contacting IWK Central Intake Service toll free 1.855.922.1122

The administrative assistant will request basic identifying information and then the referral source and/or the family will be contacted by a referral clinician (Social Worker or Psychologist) to discuss the presenting concerns in greater detail.

How long will my child/adolescent wait to be seen?

The level of priority will be determined with the family, referral source and referral clinician. Emergency and urgent referrals will be seen within one to five days. Issues of a less urgent nature may wait up to approximately six months.

Do I need a doctor's referral to have my child seen through the IWK Mental Health Program?

No, there is an open referral policy allowing anyone to refer a child. If the referral is made by a non-family member, the parent or guardian is always contacted and services are not offered unless they are in agreement. Self-referrals are also considered.

What happens during an assessment?

You and your child will spend time with a mental health professional discussing your child/adolescent. You and your child/adolescent may be seen together and/or separately. You may be asked to complete questionnaires which will provide additional information.

How long will the assessment take and who will be present?

The assessment will generally take from one and a half to three hours and your therapist will be present. As this is a teaching facility, there may be mental health students involved with the assessment and ongoing treatment of your child. This will not occur without your consent. Team assessments sometimes involve more than one mental health professional.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in psychiatric disorders. He/she is able to prescribe medications.

A psychologist has post-graduate training in understanding and working to help people change problematic behaviour.

Is the information we talk about during our appointments discussed with anyone else?

There are some exceptions, where children's safety is concerned, but generally all information is kept confidential unless a release is signed by the parent or guardian allowing it to be shared.