- In the event of a pandemic, Nova Scotia has established a first-of-its-kind helpline dedicated solely to men.
In response to an urgent need that arose when the COVID-19 pandemic took root, Nova Scotia has established what is considered to be Canada’s first 24-hour helpline, especially for men.
Officials remarked an increase in the number of men calling the province’s 211 program, which provides information about government and community services, shortly after closing the area in March 2020. “Something is occurring here,” Nancy MacDonald, executive director of the Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia, said.
As they faced job losses, marital breakdowns, loneliness, rage, and the increased stress and worry created by the pandemic, it became evident that more males were actively seeking help.
The N.S. Advisory Council at the Status of Women also the province’s Community Services Department decided to intervene because they believed that helping men facing a potential crisis would reduce family violence. They sought assistance from MacDonald because her non-profit organization provides counseling and various programs, and it has extensive experience with 24-hour helplines.
With little fanfare, the new Men’s Helpline was launched in September 2020. Over the next 12 months, the free, confidential service received 1,600 calls from men across the province a significant number for a province with less than one million people. By mid-November, that figure had risen to nearly 2,200.
“There is a level of crisis that our social workers are very skilled at dealing with, and there is a level of crisis that is outside of our scope,” MacDonald explains.
One of the program’s goals is to prevent family violence by giving men easy access to risk management and intervention. According to MacDonald, the line has been so successful that there has been talking of expanding access to other provinces.
“The goal is to create an open space for the men to feel heard and to re-establish their emotional balance,” MacDonald explains.
Dr. Michael Young, medical director of the Sheppard Pratt psychiatric hospital in Baltimore, Md., believes the helpline is a good idea because men are often hesitant to seek help. Approximately one-third of all unique callers were directed to short-term counseling. A more significant number of men, on the other hand, repeatedly requested single, on-demand half-hour sessions.