Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

A figurine of a female police officer is seen at a makeshift memorial in Enfield, N.S., on April 22, 2020.

TIM KROCHAK/Reuters

The Nova Scotia government has activated a roster of psychologists to help address the mental health challenges facing the province’s weary population.

In a release Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority said people can call in to a free service set up by the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia to talk about their distress over the recent mass shooting that left 22 people dead.

The agency is opening a special phone line as of Wednesday to allow Nova Scotians to talk about their difficulties and ways of coping with the tragedy amid the COVID-19 shutdown.

Story continues below advertisement

Many residents of the province already appeared to be struggling with stress prior to the shootings.

In a national survey conducted before the killings, the Angus Reid Institute noted that of 53 Nova Scotians included, more than half said “worry” was the best word to describe the emotion they’re feeling the most.

Dean Perry, a clinical psychologist at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, said more than 50 psychologists will be available to provide assistance through the service set up by his association’s post-disaster committee.

He said the hope is that people who are in need of immediate help access the service, and those needing further care could be given a referral.

“The design (of the service) is to have people who are affected by the tragedy to be stabilized and to have their immediate needs and concerns looked at,” Perry said.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said officials are aware of the challenges posed to both physical and mental health by the dual “stressors” of the shootings and the COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are actively looking at opening up perhaps, people’s options to being outdoors more,” said Strang.

Story continues below advertisement

However, he didn’t specifically indicate how soon that might happen. Strang said it could still be weeks before any restrictions are lifted, and even when they are, people will have to follow basic requirements to limit the size of social gatherings.

People who knew those killed in the shooting say it has been difficult to cope with the loss, particularly in isolation.

Jane Andrews, whose distant cousin Joey Webber was murdered by Gabriel Wortman on Sunday in Shubenacadie, said the shooting has intensified anxious emotions that were already present due to the provincial shutdown.

Even prior to the shooting, the 65-year-old retiree said she often felt exhausted, although she hadn’t been physically active, and had periods of uncontrolled crying.

“Then came this horrendous massacre in our province. This was my breaking point. I screamed, I ranted, I raged. I looked up and challenged God: ‘Why? When will enough be enough? If you’re testing me, God, I’ve failed,“’ said the resident of Hubbards.

Alec Gratto, the younger brother of Jamie Blair – a mother of two young boys killed along with her husband Greg Blair at their home in Portapique – said he is aware of the kind of mental distress Nova Scotians are feeling and urged people to seek help.

Story continues below advertisement

“I went through mental health (services) years ago, and it was beneficial. Just make a phone call … and start talking,” he said in an interview.

The grief in Portapique, the coastal community where the murder spree started late April 18, can be felt across the Bay of Fundy in the small community of West Gore, said resident Kathy Didkowsky.

When word got around that there was a shooter on the loose on the morning of April 19, Didkowsky said she struggled to work the lock on her door, because it had been so long since she felt the need to use it.

The rampage ended later that day when the killer was fatally shot by police in Enfield, N.S., after a 13-hour manhunt through central and northern communities.

While she never met the victims of the massacre, Didkowsky said they still feel like “family,” given the shared way of life that connects villages across Nova Scotia. She said that rural quietude seems to be under threat following shootings.

“Nothing has prepared us for this,” said Didkowsky, 70.

Story continues below advertisement

Tanya Sharpe, an associate professor at University of Toronto’s school of social work, said this shows how the trauma of deadly violence can ripple through a community.

In the wake of tragedy, Sharpe said many people need to collectively mourn the loss of a perceived sense of normalcy, often finding ways to come together in an effort to rebuild.

But as COVID-19 has prohibited typical forms of social support, Sharpe expects many will see prolonged symptoms of grief, and said mental health workers need to prepare accordingly.

“It is so fundamental for service providers to have both a short-term crisis intervention plan to help, as well as a long-term (plan),” said Sharpe.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority said in its release that anyone can call 902-422-9183, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, to arrange a support session with a psychologist within 48 hours.

Psychologists will offer their expertise, free of charge, via online video conference or by telephone, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies