N.S. appoints chief officer for new Office of Mental Health and Addictions

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Dr. Sam Hickcox, an addictions and mental health specialist, is shown in 2019. On Thursday, he was appointed the chief officer of Nova Scotia's new Office of Mental Health and Addictions. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Sam Hickcox, an addictions and mental health specialist, is shown in 2019. On Thursday, he was appointed the chief officer of Nova Scotia's new Office of Mental Health and Addictions. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government has appointed Dr. Sam Hickcox as the chief officer of the newly created Office of Mental Health and Addictions.

The office was one of four new offices announced by Iain Rankin when he took over the reins as premier in February.

The Office of Mental Health and Addictions will fall under the Health and Wellness Department and Hickcox will report to the deputy health minister.

The announcement of the appointment was made in a news release from the province on Thursday.

Hickcox is the physician lead for addictions medicine at Nova Scotia's health authority and is expected to take up his new role on July 1.

He will be responsible for "planning and providing strategic oversight of mental health and addictions policy development."

Improved outcomes

According to the release, the premier said the new office will improve mental health and addictions outcomes by providing co-ordination between departments, agencies and partners.

"Dr. Hickcox has both clinical experience and a passion for advocating for a broader understanding of mental health issues and addictions. I am pleased to see someone of his calibre take on this important new position," Rankin said.

In addition to his role at the health authority, Hickcox is medical director of the Atlantic Mentorship Network for Pain and Addictions.

The release said Hickcox is dedicated to dealing with the effects of marginalization and stigma on health.

Hickcox told CBC News he is honoured to have been appointed and plans to listen to people from all walks of life in order for optimal mental health and addiction care to happen in Nova Scotia.

He said his first order of business is to assemble the right group of people to work with him.

"The first priority is really getting that office up and running and full of really strong, dedicated individuals so that we can work together as an effective team," Hickcox said.

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