Bell Let’s Talk supports new state-of-the-art mental health service for Nova Scotia Health, bringing new hope for depression care

Halifax, Thursday, January 7, 2021

More than $400,000 in funding for Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions to introduce repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to alleviate symptoms of depression

HALIFAX, January 7, 2021 – The QEII Foundation today announced a gift of more than $400,000 from Bell Let’s Talk to support the introduction of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) at the Nova Scotia Hospital and Valley Regional Hospital.

rTMS is used to stimulate or inhibit nerve cells in the brain to alleviate symptoms of depression. The therapy is intended for the one-third of people with major depressive disorders who don’t respond to medication, bringing new hope to this population. The Bell Let’s Talk donation of $420,000 brings the QEII Foundation to its goal of $759,000 to launch this program in Nova Scotia.

“Mental health is something that impacts many Nova Scotians and has been top of mind even more over the last year,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “I am pleased to see the success the QEII Foundation has had in raising funds for this important program that will help so many.”

“The innovative treatment, which is minimally invasive and requires no anesthesia, has been sought after for more than 15 years,” said Dr. Michael Flynn, psychiatrist at the Nova Scotia Hospital. “We’re incredibly grateful for the generous donation from Bell Let’s Talk to the QEII Foundation. It’s allowing us to take the first step towards setting up a province-wide rTMS program for all Nova Scotians.”

Until now, rTMS has only been offered in a private clinic in Halifax. Nova Scotians will now be able to access this life-changing treatment in a public hospital and at no cost. Now more than ever, innovative and accessible mental health services are crucial. As the first hospital-based rTMS program in Atlantic Canada, the QEII Foundation is helping to introduce new treatment options that will transform care for those fighting treatment-resistant depression, PTSD and other mental health disorders.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to support improved access to innovative mental health treatments in Nova Scotia. With rTMS, Nova Scotians will now have publicly funded access to the most advanced treatment available for major depressive disorders,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. “The Bell Let’s Talk team would like to thank mental health care professionals across the province for the important work they do every day – we’re proud to partner with you in your important efforts on behalf of Nova Scotians.”

Many are familiar with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but while it is highly effective, it also involves the use of general anesthesia and muscle relaxants. rTMS brings a new and less disruptive option for people living with depression who are not experiencing improvement with medication. It’s a leading-edge, evidence-based treatment that will improve the lives of many.

“rTMS is a treatment that we know will make a difference for many Nova Scotians living with mental illness,” said Rachel Boehm, Director, Mental Health and Addictions Program in Central Zone. “Expanding the range of evidence-based treatments to include rTMS is an exciting development for our Mental Health and Addictions Program and one we couldn’t have achieved without our partnerships with Bell Let’s Talk and the QEII Foundation.”

“Thanks to the support of Bell Let’s Talk, mental health care teams will be able to provide this life-changing treatment option to Nova Scotians in every corner of our province at no cost for the first time,” said Susan Mullin, President and CEO, QEII Foundation. “This project is just the beginning as the QEII Foundation and our donors strive to advance mental health care in Nova Scotia.”

Quick facts

• Approved by Health Canada in 2002, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) uses a magnetic field to stimulate or inhibit nerve cells in the brain that are involved in controlling emotions. With repeated treatments, the magnetic pulses impact how the brain is working – easing depression symptoms and improving mood, with little or no discomfort.

• During treatments, the patient sits comfortably in a recliner-style rTMS chair and remains awake. They can return to normal, daily activities immediately following treatment, as no medication or anesthesia is required. A typical treatment course is approximately 4-6 weeks, with treatment sessions ranging between 5 and 40 minutes five days a week.

• There will be two rTMS clinics – one at the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth and the other at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.

• Five per cent of Nova Scotians live with major depressive disorder. One-third of these individuals do not respond to standard therapies and medications.

• rTMS has been available in Halifax since 2019 in a private clinic setting at the expense of patients. Prior to that, some individuals were paying out of pocket to travel and stay in Montréal or Toronto to receive the treatment.

Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 28
The QEII Foundation joins Bell in inviting everyone to take part in the mental health conversation on January 28. You can use a wide range of communications platforms to join in on Bell Let’s Talk Day – and directly drive Bell’s donations to Canadian mental health programs simply by participating.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. All at no cost to participants beyond what they would normally pay their service provider for online or phone access.

About The QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation
The QEII Foundation inspires generosity to advance health care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. With financial support from all levels of the community, the QEII Foundation helps fund new technologies, medical research, innovation and professional education that contribute to life-changing moments experienced every day by patients and their loved ones. By working together with people who share a vision of better health, the Foundation strengthens care delivered at the QEII, improving the health and lives of Atlantic Canadians.

About Bell Let’s Talk
The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars: Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 1,100 organizations providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit

Media inquiries:
Natalie Jarvis
QEII Foundation

Katie Hatfield
Bell Aliant

Pictured: Dr. Michael Flynn with an example of rTMS technology