211 Nova Scotia awards Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia with the Believer’s Award

9 January 2023

211 Nova Scotia is pleased to announce that Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia has been awarded the Believer’s Award.

The Believer’s Award is presented annually and recognizes the contributions and efforts from an individual or organization who champions 211
Nova Scotia’s mission and aims to positively impact the lives of Nova Scotians. The award was presented to Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia at a recent meeting of 211 Nova Scotia’s Board of Directors, held at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, 211 Nova Scotia identified an increase in the number of men seeking help as they struggled with the pressures and fallout from the pandemic. The Department of Community Services and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women partnered to address the increase in men reaching out for support. Building on their existing telephone support lines and counselling expertise, Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia was engaged around the possibility of establishing a helpline specifically for men.

“Our community partners reported that men were looking for support and had fewer resources to deal with the social isolation and job losses” says Nancy MacDonald, Executive Director of Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia. “We were hopeful that by providing an accessible 24/7,  supportive, early intervention service for men who were struggling we could avoid or reduce family violence.”

Because of the overwhelming success of the Men’s Helpline which started taking calls in September 2020, the Women’s Helpline and the All Genders Helpline were launched in June 2021. Each of the helplines offers free, confidential telehealth counselling services to individuals 18 years and older who have concerns for their well-being and safety or the safety of others.

“As the sole point of contact, 211 Nova Scotia has seen the tremendous impact of Nova Scotians being able to access 24/7 counselling through the Men’s, Women’s, and All Genders Helplines. Our data shows that Nova Scotians are facing an increased number and depth of challenges, and this coincides with a higher volume of calls to the helplines” says Mary-Jo Monk, Executive Director of 211 Nova Scotia.

In 2021, 211 Nova Scotia’s Community Resource Navigators made over 2,500 referrals to the Men’s, Women’s, and All Genders Helplines. This number rose dramatically in 2022, with 9,800 referrals being made to the Men’s, Women’s, and All Genders Helplines provided by Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia. “We’re so appreciative of Nancy MacDonald and the team at Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia. They’re expertise on both the counselling and operations side of the organization is an asset as we forecast continued growth and demand for the helplines” says Mary-Jo Monk.

Nancy MacDonald notes that “when the Men’s Helpline first started, we would average a few calls in a 24-hour period. In December of 2022, with the All Genders, Men’s, and Women’s Helplines active, we were receiving on average over 35 calls a day. Callers have said the Helpline Counsellors are compassionate, understanding, knowledgeable, non-judgemental, and comforting. Callers have also shared that they feel better, calmer, and less alone after their call.”

“As 211 Nova Scotia looks to the future, partners such as Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia are imperative” continues Monk. “For 211 to be as inclusive, accessible, and comprehensive as possible, we need to continue to develop and strengthen partnerships that will help us serve all Nova Scotians.”