Ways to get mental health support and a comprehensive list of resources

Credit to Author: Nandini Tirumala| Date: Tue, 04 May 2021 21:25:51 +0000

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. With the ongoing pandemic, worrisome situations locally as well as in other countries where loved ones are suffering can be difficult for many. Mental well-being can be affected and needs to be monitored and looked after. Feeling anxious, sad, frustrated or suicidal can affect us in the short-term and long-term.

Knowing that you need help and learning where to get help is important for newcomers and immigrants. Traditional supports such as family, friends, religious/spiritual leaders in home countries may no longer be available having moved to a new country. In addition, barriers such as language, culture and preoccupation with immediate needs such as income, housing, jobs and schools could have come in the way of fostering new community connections, or finding out about resources available and seeking help.

Lockdowns and lack of opportunities to meet people due to public health guidelines can be further isolating for newcomers. Added to it may also be the hesitancy to talk to someone about your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings as it may not be a common thing to do in some cultures.

However, if you want to feel better and have made the decision to seek help, there are different supports available through the health care system and in the community. Most of the services are free of cost, they are available in different languages and are offered by trained professionals.

Here are common pathways that can lead you to get support for your mental health concerns before it gets to a stage of crisis, become chronic or affect the different areas of your life:

1. Discuss with your family doctor: Family doctors are usually the first contact to not only discuss about your physical health issues, but also open up about your mental health status. They can do initial screening and refer you to appropriate services or specialists such as psychiatrists (services are free) for further assessment.

2. Talk with a settlement counselor: Every city in Canada has a settlement agency that supports newcomers and immigrants with different issues in their initial years in Canada. Sharing with your settlement counselors about your stresses and emotions can help them to connect you to mental health counselors within the agency or with services and supports outside. They speak your language as well as understand your culture.

3. Call a help-line: When things sometimes can get out of control or you are overwhelmed with emotions, you may want to talk to someone about it right away. There are local, provincial and national 24-hr Help-lines for mental health crisis to support you, assess your safety and offer you the care you need.

4. Contact regulated professional associations: In Canada, there are certain professionals working in the field of mental health who are governed by a regulated body to provide standard supports and services. Psychologists, Social Workers, Psychotherapists and Nursing are regulated professions who offer services through health care system and also in private practice. You may need a referral for some services but can also self-refer and pay for services through private health insurance plans/extended health care coverage through your employee benefits plan or also pay fees out of your own pocket. You can call or check their websites for information about professionals registered with them, their areas and location of practice.

5. Connect with a community mental health agency: There are many provincially funded community mental health agencies or community health centres that offer programs and supports for mental health problems and also mental illness. They also have community support workers or case managers who do home visits or meet you in the community to help with your mental health needs.

6. Go online: If you are one of those who would like to chat, write or seek support with professionals from the comfort of their home, there are tele-health and on-line mental health supports. They are proving to be as effective as visit to a mental health professional. You can use the virtual support options to protect your anonymity while getting help.

7. Other supports: Talk to your faith leader from your community, employer, co-worker, union representative or other ethnic organizations that you can relate to and share your concerns.

Mental health is not a topic that we discuss easily and for some of us it can be scary and shameful. Accepting help can also be a challenge as it is often considered a sign of weakness. We all need to educate ourselves, create awareness and focus on our overall well-being for a healthy community. Let us all prioritize our mental health today and utilize all the resources available around us.

Some common resources to keep handy:

FIND A DOCTOR

  1. How to find a doctor or nurse practitioner: https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-family-doctor-or-nurse-practitioner
  2. Health Care Connect program, call 1-800-445-1822 to find a new doctor
  3. Canadian Association of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: https://doctors.cpso.on.ca/

FIND A SETTLEMENT COUNSELLOR

  1. Visit www.settlement.org
  2. Call your local settlement services agency

HELPLINES

  1. Telehealth Ontario: Call: +1866-797-0000/ Toll-free TTY: +1866-797-0007
  2. Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 pm to 12 am ET).
  3. Kids Help Phone: Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868
  4. Find programs and services in your community including local crisis lines: Ontario 211. Email and live chat also available.
  5. Crisis support for post-secondary students in Ontario: https://good2talk.ca/ontario/ or call 1-866-925-5454

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

PSYCHOLOGISTS:

  1. Canadian Psychological Association https://cpa.ca/public/findingapsychologist/
  2. Ontario Psychological Association https://askforhelptoday.ca/ or Call:(416) 961-5552 to find a psychologist.

COUNSELLORS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS

  1. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association: https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/
  2. Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists: http://www.psychotherapyontario.org/
  3. College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario: https://www.crpo.ca/
  4. Ontario Association of Mental Health Counselors: https://oamhp.ca/

SOCIAL WORKERS

  1. Canadian Association of Social Workers: https://www.casw-acts.ca/
  2. Ontario Association of Social Workers: https://www.oasw.org/

COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

  1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: http://www.camh.ca/ 
  2. Canadian Mental Health Association: cmha.ca/
  3. Women’s Health in Women’s Hands: https://www.whiwh.com/
  4. Across Boundaries Mental health programs for racialized communities in Toronto: www.acrossboundaries.ca

VIRTUAL/ONLINE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

  1. eMentalHealth.ca https://www.ementalhealth.ca/
  2. Government of Ontario Mental Health Support resources: https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-mental-health-support
  3. Free virtual mental health therapy for Ontario residents (funded by the Government of Ontario):  https://www.mindbeacon.com/tgp-getstarted

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