Where to start...Getting Help

How do I get a referral to a mental health specialist?

The easiest way is to ask your family doctor, if you have one, or go to a walk-in clinic. Some clinics even have their own counsellors. If you want names of medical doctors who specialize in counselling please call 211 or Nurses’ Registry (807.623.7451).

Are services free?

Some are, some aren’t.

If you see a GP (general practitioner) psychotherapist, it’s covered by most provincial health plans (e.g. OHIP). If you go to a hospital, it’s also covered.

If you’re a university student, most student health centres offer counselling for free. Most community health centres also have counsellors; just go on their websites, stop in, or phone to check.

Psychiatrists are MD’s, so you don’t pay - they are covered by provincial health plans (eg; OHIP).

Clinical Psychologists are doctors with a specialty in mental health, but not MD’s, they are typically covered by extended health insurance plans through workplaces (eg; dentists, chiropractors, etc.) but not by OHIP. Usually psychologists have shorter waiting lists, and you can often just call and get an appointment. You usually don’t need a referral from an MD unless you want to submit your receipt to an extended health insurance plan (eg; through your work or your parents’ work).

It’s all confidential, so your employer can’t get your file without your permission. If you see a psychologist in private practice, you may need to pay at the time of the visit (approx. $140 to $160) and then send in your receipt to be repaid.

Some employers—either your own or your parents’—have Employee Assistance Plans that offer short-term counselling at no cost to you. Check to see if someone in your family has access to an EAP.

How do I get an appointment without telling all kinds of personal information?

If your doctor calls, he/she will explain what your concerns are. If you call for an appointment yourself, you can just give general information like “I’ve been depressed,” or “I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting along with my family,” or “I find myself getting so nervous I can’t even speak to people.” The receptionist might ask a few questions just to make sure you get to see the person who’s the best match for you.

Do I have to let anyone know I’m going?

General Counselling
If you’re over 16, you’ll have complete confidentiality regarding your mental health. You can make your own health decisions, and health care providers can’t even reveal the fact that you’ve requested help. You can ask your counsellor not to involve your parents, if that’s your wish.

Between 14 and 16, you can get counselling at most clinics and receive guidance about mental health issues including sexual health.

Hospital Services
If you’re treated at a hospital and you’re over age 16, you don’t need your parent or guardian’s consent; if you’re under 16, though, you need your parent or guardian’s consent to be seen at a hospital.

In schools, the age of consent is 18, so sometimes a school may ask for your parents consent if you’re under 18. Just ask a teacher you know or a guidance counsellor. They can tell you their school’s policy.

If I have a concern and just want advice or information, where can I go?

Keep in mind that phone or website information will be general, and not tailored to your specific situation. Still, if all you want is information, there are many good phone or internet resources. Here are a few –

What if I have a friend or family member who needs help and they won’t go?

Many people wait until they’re in a crisis to get help, but it’s much better if they go before that. You can always take someone to the Emergency Room, and that’s how lots of people first start getting help. They typically won’t keep someone for a long time unless they’re a danger to themselves or others; if they are, they’d usually require the person to stay at least 3 days.

If I make an appointment, what will the first appointment be like?

The intent of the first appointment is for your counsellor/therapist to get as much information as possible, but also to help you get comfortable. You’ll probably be asked quite a few questions, so just answer honestly, but feel free to ask some questions yourself.

Can I have someone go with me?

You can certainly have someone accompany you to the appointment. However, most mental health professionals want your ideas, so your friend/family member may be asked to wait in the waiting room. If you’d feel more comfortable having someone with you, though, just say so and many counsellors/therapists would be OK with that. You may want to ask about the policy on the phone if it’s really important to you.

For more on what kinds of questions will I be asked see Getting Ready for the First Session, Pre-Intake Questionnaire.

Information provided by www.mindyourmind.ca
www.mindyourmind.ca thanks Dr. Margaret DeCorte, Ph. D., C. Psych. and her youth crew at Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON