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A lifetime of commitment to mental health: Dal counsellor honoured with long‑time service award

Posted by Kristie Gillis and Matt Reeder on January 20, 2021 in News
Dr. David Pilon receives the Dr. Charles J.A. Hayes Lifetime Contribution Award from the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia. (Provided photo)
Dr. David Pilon receives the Dr. Charles J.A. Hayes Lifetime Contribution Award from the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia. (Provided photo)

Awareness about the importance of mental health continues to grow year after year, thanks in large part those leaders and advocates in the field who witness its impacts and offer treatment day to day.

Individuals such as Dr. David Pilon, director of counselling and psychological services at Dal’s Student Health & Wellness Centre.

Dr. Pilon was recently recognized by the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) with a lifetime contribution award for his extensive advocacy, mentorship and leadership in psychological services in the province and beyond.

“Dr. David Pilon is an inspiring advocate for psychology and has demonstrated leadership and mentorship at the highest level over an extended period of his professional career,” says Susan Marsh, executive director of the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia.

Dr. Pilon, also an assistant professor of psychiatry in Dal’s Faculty of Medicine, is the first recipient of the Dr. Charles J.A. Hayes Lifetime Contribution Award, which is named after a well-respected psychologist and long-time APNS member and pioneer.

APNS says the award serves to recognize depth and engagement of long-term service, honouring those psychologists who have spent a significant part of their professional lifetime actively participating in the APNS mentoring and supporting individual psychologists and students, as well as advocating for the profession of psychology at the provincial, national and international level.

Prioritizing mental health literacy

Practicing since 1990, Dr. Pilon has held a variety of leadership roles within the Nova Scotia Health Authority and been affiliated with its Eating Disorder Clinic for most of his career. He has also served in a variety of governance roles with national and international associations throughout his career.

A few of Dr. Pilon's specific interest areas are enhanced access to evidence-based mental health services, capacity building with respect to service delivery, mental health literacy and the evaluation of outcomes of mental health treatment.

Dr. Pilon joined Dal's Student Health & Wellness team as director of counselling in 2018. In 2019, under his leadership, the unit added more same-day counsellors to its interprofessional collaborative health-care team, boosting appointments by 50 per cent and increasing services to students and a wider range of counselling programs and groups.

“Dalhousie and the Student Health & Wellness Team thank Dr. Pilon for his contributions not only to the Dalhousie community, but to the entire province,” says Verity Turpin, acting vice-provost of student affairs at Dal.