Workshop focuses on understanding challenges of those with mental health and addiction issues who also have traumatic brain injuries


TRURO, N.S. -- Health care professionals, care providers and community workers came together in Truro on Thursday for a workshop aimed at helping them better understand the challenges of supporting individuals with mental health and addiction issues, who are also living with traumatic brain injuries,

The free event was sponsored by the Colchester East Hants Health Centre Foundation and organized by members of Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Mental Health and Addictions team.

“This workshop was about expanding our understanding of what people with traumatic brain injuries might be going through, and what we need to be alert for to best respond to their unique needs.” said Kathryn Fraser, a health promotion specialist with Mental Health and Addictions in Truro.

More than 100 participants came together to learn from provincial experts in the field, and spaces filled up quickly with representatives from many community and health services organizations, including the Truro Homelessness Outreach Society; Canadian Mental Health Association; First Nations’ health centres; Colchester Sexual Assault Centre; Maggie’s Place; Chignecto-Central Regional School Board; Community Services; Continuing Care; Futureworx and more.

“The extent of interest in this topic is a reflection of the broad impact and significance of traumatic brain injury in our communities and we were pleased to extend our support,” said Sharon Crowe, Executive Director of the Colchester East Hants Health Centre Foundation.

Presenters from various roles and disciples covered a range of topics, including the most current, evidence-based information on impacts, barriers and collaborative treatment options for those living with traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Linda Ferguson, founder of the Colchester Sports Medicine and Concussion Clinics and the Colchester Research Group, provided a general overview of mild brain injury, how it presents clinically and how it can ideally be managed by a team made up of different health care providers. She also equipped participants with information on how to better identify triggers related to brain injury that may prevent progress for clients seeking help for mental health and addiction issues.

"This has been an excellent platform to bring the multidisciplinary healthcare team together to increase public awareness of the incidence and optimal management of mild traumatic brain injury,” she said.

Leona Burkey, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia (BIANS) shared her enthusiasm.

“A community-based workshop of this nature is very important -- mental health, addictions and traumatic brain injuries are intrinsically connected by our most important organ,” said Burkey. “The subject matter speaks to the complex nature of brain injuries and this initiative is very encouraging to see -- collaboration and multi-disciplinary approaches are key to improving recovery supports for this chronically underserved disability group."

More than 170,000 Canadians incur a brain injury each year, according to information from BIANS, and brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death for those under the age of 44.

Other presenters Thursday included:

  • Physiotherapist Jessica Browne, Clinic Director for Lifemark Physiotherapy, presented on the visual and functional difficulties that often arise in individuals with mild to moderate brain injury, offering advice on how to guide patients safely and appropriately.
  • Jeniffer Hilling, an occupational therapist with CBI Health Care highlighted the factors that may impact on an individual’s functioning after a brain injury, including related mental health challenges, behavioural concerns, along with strategies to help these individuals function to their greatest potential.
  • Kendra Gottschall, a social worker and clinical therapist with Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Mental Health and Addiction Services team, provided a clinical perspective on how changes in therapeutic approaches by mental health and addiction care providers could help lead to better quality of life for clients with mild to moderate brain injury and concurrent mental health or addiction issues.


Media Contact:
Kristen Lipscombe
Senior Advisor, Media Relations
Cell: (902) 478-9736
Provincial Media Line: 1-844-483-3344

About Nova Scotia Health Authority
Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) provides health services to Nova Scotians and a wide array of specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. NSHA operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province. Our team of health professionals includes employees, doctors, researchers, learners and volunteers. We work in partnership with community groups, schools, governments, foundations and auxiliaries and community health boards. Visit for more.