WOLFVILLE, NS – A new movement calling for changes to how mental health is handled in Nova Scotia has formed in Wolfville, and it’s been growing larger ever since.
Layla Kelly is the founder of #SOSNS, or SOS Nova Scotia, a movement she started after feeling the province’s mental health system could use a real check up.
She’s created a petition, which within its first 6 days received 1,150 signatures. Now, it sits at 1,350, with new signatures every day. It’s a movement many identify with because of their own struggles with the system, says Kelly.
“We’re already doing great things with this, just by being present and opening up this conversation. I’m so humbled by how much support this has already,” she says.
Small fixes could mean big changes, say speakers
Kelly organized and hosted the movement’s first open mic session last week at Just Us café in Wolfville, where people gathered to speak about their own experiences with mental health, and seeking help from the healthcare system.
Each speaker spoke of repeated frustrations, including topics like crisis centres that turned them away, difficulty finding medications that worked, and therapists who they perceived were more invested in making money than helping patients.
Several speakers spoke as even more people listened, embodying exactly what Kelly wants to see the movement accomplish.
“Diversity is such a strength to a movement like this. If we have enough voices with different mental health experiences, people will listen,” she says.
She started the campaign after feeling inspired by the success of #MeToo, a campaign encouraging women who’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted to share their experiences.
“The power of this should not be underestimated. This is becoming a movement, and I can’t wait to see where it goes,” she says.
Bringing the conversation to the legislation
This was the first of several open mics to be held in the province. The following sessions will take place in Halifax, and others are in the works in other areas.
Kelly says people expressed interest in hosting open mics as soon as the first one was organized.
The open mics will serve to highlight struggles each speaker has faced, as well as recommendations they have for what can be improved within the system.
At the Just Us open mic, several speakers mentioned a 24-hour shelter system being a helpful and low cost solution, and an increase in the number of people who currently work on the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team, which many said placed them on hold for over fifteen minutes.
“It’s overwhelming to hear what these people have been through. Statements like these cannot be ignored,” says Kelly, whose next step will be formulating a presentation to take to the province.
“It starts from an idea – we’ll see how the legislation reacts to it, and figure it out from there.”
To sign the petition, visit its page at Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/stephen-mcneil-sosns
To stay informed on future open mics, see the #SOSNS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sosnovascotia/