Protect, Befriend, Respect

Nova Scotia’s Mental Health Movement, 1908–2008

By Judith Fingard and John Rutherford  

Paperback $19.95

For one hundred years, the Canadian Mental Health Association and its antecedent organizations have constituted a major force in the campaign to improve the prospects of people living with mental illness. This book traces the evolution of the movement in Nova Scotia in three stages, from one that sought to protect mentally compromised people, to one that befriended those struggling with mental disabilities and spoke out against discrimination, and finally, to one that advocates for the rights of consumers and respects their need to speak on their own behalf. This journey through the social policy regarding mental health focuses on the individuals who fought stigma, institutionalization and marginalization: activists, bureaucrats, health professionals and consumers. Often with strong views and frequently with compassion, they attacked the problems of indifference with dedication and energy. The result is a history not only of a particular organization, but also of a society’s approach toward some of its most vulnerable constituents.

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  • Introduction: Mental Health Matters
  • Agitate, Educate, Legislate: The Formative Years, 1908-1950
  • More for the Mind, 1950-1985
  • Framework for Support, 1985-1997
  • Out of the Shadows at Last, 1997-2008
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography


  • Judith Fingard

    Dalhousie University

    J. Fingard’s degrees are from Dalhousie University and the University of London where she completed doctoral studies in 1970. She spent her teaching career in the Department of History at Dalhousie, retiring in 1997 to pursue research full-time. Her research interests in Canadian social history have addressed issues of religion, class, gender, race, and disability. Since the late 1990s she has served terms as president of the Canadian Historical Association and the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Association. For her contributions to Canadian history she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1991. Her books include: The Anglican Design in Loyalist Nova Scotia (1972), Jack in Port: Sailortowns of Eastern Canada (1982), The Dark Side of Life in Victorian Halifax (1989), Mothers of the Municipality: Women, Work, and Social Policy in Post-1945 Halifax (2005), with Janet Guildford.

  • John Rutherford

    Dalhousie University

    J. Rutherford received his PhD degree from the Upstate Medical Centre of the State University of New York in Syracuse in 1972. He joined the Department of Anatomy (now Anatomy and Neurobiology) at Dalhousie University in 1970. During his thirty-eight year tenure there, he taught neuroanatomy and gross anatomy to medical, dental, health professional and graduate students. His reasearch interests throughout most of this period dealt with the investigation of mammalian neural pathways mediating control of somatic and autonomic motor activity. His publications on these topics appeared in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, Anatomy and Embryology, and Brain Research, among others. More recently, as a result of his interest in neurobiology generally, he has become involved with research relating to the history of mental health issues in Atlantic Canada. He currently holds a post-retirement position in the Department.

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