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Why Nova Scotia needs more mental health courts

Carl Baltzer said he doesn’t feel good about his son, Andrew, being sentenced to federal time but hopes he’ll get the help he needs to deal with addiction and mental health issues while incarcerated.
Carl Baltzer said he doesn’t feel good about his son, Andrew, being sentenced to federal time but hopes he’ll get the help he needs to deal with addiction and mental health issues while incarcerated. - Kirk Starratt
Andrew Baltzer’s high school graduation photo.

Kings County father hopes son with addiction, mental health issues sentenced to federal time will accept help he needsAs he looks back at smiling school photos of his son, Carl Baltzer hasn’t given up hope that his boy will one day experience an epiphany and accept the help he needs. Carl has spent thousands of dollars on various drug treatment programs for his son over the years, but 30 days haven’t proven long enough to get to the root of the problem. “I’ve dealt with this for so long and the only reason I’m good with where he is and what he’s doing now is he’s still alive,” he said.

Kings North MLA and Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative (PC) Party leadership candidate John Lohr is advocating for access to mental health courts across the province. He lost his son, Caleb, who was enrolled in mental health court in Dartmouth, following a tragic accident in 2014.

Kings North MLA’s experience leads to advocating for province-wide mental health court access John Lohr has a deeply personal reason behind advocating for mental health court access across Nova Scotia: the experiences his family went through with his own son made it clear that it is needed across the province.

This graphic illustrates some statistics from the mental health courts over a three-year period.

‘It’s a program I’m really proud to be involved with’: Kings County lawyer There’s no question that successfully completing the Court Monitored Mental Health Program (CMMHP) can be a cathartic moment for participants and program team members alike. Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer Chrystal MacAulay said her job in the CMMHP is duty counsel, representing participants in court. Although it isn’t a requirement, she is usually the lawyer who represents CMMHP participants. “It’s a program I’m really proud to be involved with, quite frankly,” MacAulay said. “I think it’s really needed, not only in this community, but in Nova Scotia and Canada in general.”

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