Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia Helps Fund New Program

Strongest Families Institute Celebrates Mental Health Awareness Week with a Donation from Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia for NDD Program Initiative

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022-During Mental Health Awareness Week, Strongest Families Institute (SFI) is pleased to announce that it has received $25,000 from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia to implement a parenting/caregiver program for families of children with a neurodevelopment disorder (NDD), who struggle with behavioural challenges.

Children affected by an NDD such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD and Alcohol-related Neurodevelopmental disorder), Tourette’s, ADHD, Intellectual Disability and others, face mobility, language, learning and socialization limitations. Parents caring for NDD children have been particularly affected by COVID-19-related impacts.

SFI is working to change that. For the last 10 years, SFI has excelled in providing mental health programming for some of the most marginalized populations in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

SFI has seen strong impacts when working with families caring for NDD children through one of its existing programs – Parents Empowering Kids (PEK). To explore this further, SFI recently participated in a multi-year study conducted at the IWK Health Centre, funded by the Kids Brain Health Network. The goal was to enhance our program specifically customized for families with NDD kids through co-design called Strongest Families ‘Parents Empowering Neurodiverse Kids’ program. Now that the study has ended, SFI is honoured to receive $25,000 in funding from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia to help support the transition from research to service to make this specialized program available to families with NDD children struggling with behavioural challenges.

“The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive,” says Dr. Patricia Lingley- Pottie, President & CEO of Strongest Families. “Not only did the study yield important information about developing targeted programming for NDD families, but it also helped them feel more connected.”

“The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is especially pleased to be supporting this program because it is designed for families, by families,” says Starr Cunningham, Foundation President & CEO. “Strongest Families understands the importance of including lived experience feedback in its program creation. Parents Empowering Neurodiverse Kids will improve mental health services for children with NDD and their parents. We know that NDD families face behavioural and parenting challenges and that there is a lack of evidence-based programming to support them,” says Starr Cunningham, President & CEO of the Foundation. “This funding provided through our Community Grant program will help SFI get started on a mental health initiative targeted at the unique learning and comprehensive needs of children with NDD.”


6The program’s development will take about 18 months to complete, but that timeline is based solely on securing additional funding required to complete the project.

“As a charity, we rely on government funding, corporate contributions and individual donations to fund our work, especially our development activities,” says Dr. Lingley-Pottie. “While we have contracts in place to deliver our services, securing funding for development work can be a lengthier and more challenging process. As a charity, 100% of all donations help improve client care and important projects such as this.”

“This is a significant project. One that will require multiple funding sources to bring it from the research phase to a family-ready stage,” says Dr. Pottie. “We are grateful to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia for getting it started.”

The program’s development phase 1 is estimated to cost $250,000 and includes such initiatives as recontextualizing the existing parenting program, piloting the new work and getting caregiver-focused feedback, integrating the new program with SFI’s e-health platform, developing protocols and training staff.



Strongest Families Institute, Anne Marie Shannon, Director of Fundraising and Communications, amshannon@strongestfamilies.com, 902-449-6560

Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, Jill Chappell, Marketing and Communications Lead, Jill.Chappell@nshealth.ca,  902-464-6000 x 6

About Strongest Families:

Strongest Families Institute (SFI) is an award-winning charitable organization that provides proven programs to improve mental health and well-being by leveraging the advantages of highly skilled coaches and innovative technology. SFI was designed as an access solution. SFI removes barriers to care so that families gain quick access regardless of where they live. With SFI’s family-centred approach, coaching calls are booked at convenient times, day, or night. This means that there is no need to travel, no missed time from work or school, services are free to families, and stigma is virtually eliminated. SFI also works to eliminate the digital divide by offering services in the mode that best suits the clients – app, online or hardcopy materials. Based in Nova Scotia, we have service contracts in ten provinces and two territories as well as federal contracts to help serve military and Veteran families. In 2020-21, we provided mental health programming to 13,000 families.

About the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia:

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is a registered charity that aims to increase financial support to community initiatives while providing hope and eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction. Thanks to our donors, we distributed more than 1.6 million dollars to mental health and addiction programs and services in Nova Scotia in 2020-21


Dr. Pottie speaks with CBC Sydney about the enhanced program HERE

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