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Mental Health & Addictions Central Referral

Make the Call to Central Referral

If you need help with a mental health and addictions problem, Central Referral is there to help.

At the IWK we offer mental health and addictions service for children and youth under the age of 19. Please call toll free 1-855-922-1122.

Central Referral can help you get an appointment for mental health and addictions services. You can call yourself or your family doctor can make a referral on your behalf. 

After the Call to Central Referral

When you call Central Referral, a clinician will spend approximately 20 – 30 minutes of time with you on the phone.  They will begin with gathering contact and demographic information, and then they will review the IWK’s Limits of Confidentiality policy.

Following this, they will use a validated interview tool called the HEADS-ED to help identify mental health issues and determine if you are eligible for services.  There are several variables incorporated into the HEADS-ED such as Home, Education and Employment, Activities and Peers, Drugs and Alcohol, Suicidality, and Emotions and Behaviours. 

If mental health symptoms are present, the clinician will discuss appropriate services with you within the IWK Mental Health and Addictions program and may recommend and offer you a Choice appointment (first appointment).  If a Choice appointment is not deemed appropriate, the clinician will discuss other options that you may find supportive, such as services available within your community.

A Choice Appointment at the IWK

Based on the outcome of the intake assessment, you may be offered an opportunity to come to meet with a mental health clinician for a first appointment - called a Choice appointment - at the Community Mental Health and Addictions clinic that is closest to where you live.

A Choice appointment is an opportunity to meet with a clinician to:

  • Find out about the mental health problem that you are concerned about;
  • Provide you with enough information to make an informed choice about what to do next;
  • Explain the variety of services and interventions available.

Watch the below video to learn more about Choice Appointments.

Before your appointment

Here are a few things you may want to do before your appointment. Think about your goals.

  • Why are you seeking help?
  • Are there a few specific things you and your child would like to work on or improve?

Talk to your child. Prepare them for the appointment.

Your in-person appointment

This is what you can expect in the appointment:

  • Before your appointment starts, you may fill in a short questionnaire, called a Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire.  It helps the clinician better understand how things are going. 
  • The clinician will explain confidentiality and tell you what can and cannot be shared about what you talk about in treatment.
  • Everyone gets a chance to share why they are seeking help. 
  • You may choose to come back for another appointment. If so, the clinician will talk about next steps in your treatment. You’ll also get your next appointment date.
  • Before you leave, the clinician will offer suggestions for things you or your child can do to be active in your own treatment. 
  • About a week after your appointment, you and your family doctor will get a Choice letter. The letter provides a brief summary of why you came, your goals, suggestions for things you can do, next steps and/or next appointment time.

Here are some tips for a successful and stress-free appointment.

  • Be on time
  • Double check the appointment time on your letter—make sure you have the correct date and time.
  • Please allow lots of time to get to your appointment.  
  • Check in when you arrive
  • Register for your appointment or group at the main desk. Arrive early so you have enough time to register.
  • If it’s your first visit, bring along your or your child’s Nova Scotia Health Card, your appointment card or letter, and any new information related to your child’s appointment. 
  • If you need to cancel, please call the clinic as soon as possible to reschedule.

Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service

Please call, toll free, 1-855-922-1122.

Central Referral can help you get an appointment for mental health and addictions services. You can call yourself or your family doctor can make a referral on your behalf. 

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