Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Stephen Chris

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


A mental health needs assessment of the industrial area of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia was conducted between September and December, 1989. The study was sponsored by the Cape Breton Mental Health Association. A collaborative approach which emphasized community involvement was utilized to design and implement the study. The study used a convergent analysis of the data to elicit a comprehensive and multidimensional perspective on mental health needs from four sub-sample, including the administrators of mental health services, socio-mental health professionals, consumers of mental health services, and the general public. Data were also obtained from five groups (i.e., youth, those with chronic mental health problems, the elderly, Natives, and women) that were identified as being underserved by the extant services. Finally, four groups (i.e., staff with the Cape Breton District School Board, members of Canadian Friends of Schizophrenia, administrators of homes for special care, and concerned citizens of New Waterford) with specific interests in the delivery of mental health services submitted input into the needs assessment. A variety of needs assessment techniques were used to collect data including a modified community impressions approach which was augmented with community forums, nominal and focus groups, key informant interviews, an analysis of existing services, and a mail survey. The data were analyzed using the following seven mental health service categories which delineate the program areas of mental health services offered in the Industrial Area: 1) problem identification, 2) coordination and direction, 3) treatment/intervention, 4) familial support, 5) accommodation, 6) transportation, and 7) education. The identification of major mental health concerns reflects both inter-sample consensus and individual sample concern. The recommendations address the perceived needs documented in the study. They reflected the key findings of the study and indicate specific areas in which to encourage future efforts from the mental health delivery system and the community. Recommendations were offered in all of the seven categories. The major concerns highlighted by the study are improved coordination of services, an emphasis on an outreach and community-based orientation in the delivery of mental health services, and augmented human resources. Given the limited resources, the use of the mental health professional as consultant was stressed. Youth and the psychogeriatric population were identified as groups who are in particular need of enhanced mental health services. The importance of working with these groups as part of the family unit is recognized. In addition to offering a range of recommendations for specific services the study also makes note of the importance of macroeconomic variables, including poverty and unemployment, and the effects these factors have on a person’s mental health. Suggestions for a service delivery model which encourages local citizen participation are offered. An executive summary offering recommendations was prepared and distributed to representatives of the various groups surveyed in order to validate the findings and solicit input regarding the implementation of the recommendations. A community forum has been planned at which time the results will be released to the public. The forum will serve as a final verification of the findings and stimulate further dialogue within the community on how to implement the recommendations.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season