In recent years, mental health services have been getting more and more attention and are on the road to becoming de-stigmatized. Employee extended health benefit plans seem to be increasing their coverage, and more people seem to be aware of services available through their Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). However - once you decide to access counselling therapy - figuring out where to start, which type of services to access, and what type of therapist to see can be overwhelming... To help you make an informed decision, we’d encourage you to think about the following 6 questions:
1) Am I in a mental health crisis?
If you’ve been experiencing suicidal ideation and feel like you might act on those thoughts, reach out to local crisis supports right away. Calling the Nova Scotia mental health crisis line 902-429-8167, 911, or attending your closest, open, emergency room would be your ideal point of entry to access mental health services. Getting connected to services through the health authority is a good place to start if your mental health concerns are acute or urgent. If you are unsure if your mental health concern is urgent, the staff at the mental health crisis line will help you make a decision about whether you need to access emergency or other public health services for your mental health.
If your mental health concern is an emergency, please treat it as urgently as if you would a physical health emergency. Other ways to get connected to the health authority for access to non-crisis mental health and addiction services include:
You can also See your Family Doctor and ask for a referral to Mental Health or to a psychiatrist. Your Family Doctor can help you decide which public services are most appropriate for you. If you are in a crisis, you will likely be seen relatively quickly by the health authority. On the other hand, if you are experiencing a non -urgent issue, or a chronic issue, you may experience delays accessing care on the waitlist. Often, therapists in private practice have shorter waitlists than the public system and can see you quickly.
2) Did something recently happen in my life and I need to talk to someone about it?
Often times, clients come to therapy after a particular stressful event happens that they want emotional support with. If you just want to talk to someone to get their unbiased perspective, you might benefit from short-term counselling services. These are often available through your Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) at your workplace. Typically, these services are aimed at helping people access coping tools to manage through a recent difficult experience. These services are not intended to be long-term. If you speak with your HR department, they can help you access these services.
You will be matched with a counsellor in your local area who has the appropriate competency to help you manage through your presenting concerns. If you are looking to engage in deeper work and heal old wounds, on the other hand, you will likely benefit from longer-term counselling therapy. All of our counsellors are registered with other insurance providers to provide long-term support.
3) Is this a long-term issue I am finally ready to face?
Some people come to therapy after many years of noticing unhelpful patterns in their lives, or coping with issues or symptoms -- something happens and clients decide they are ready to face their concerns head-on. When considering long-term therapy for non-crisis issues, working with a therapist in a private practice can give you the time and space you need to address long-standing patterns in your life. Often, people have access to funding for medium to long-term counselling through yearly Extended Health Benefits with their employer. Other times, people pay privately for these services and can access therapy on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, depending on their presenting concerns and the treatment plan that they develop together with their therapist.
4) Do I have Extended Health Benefits from my workplace? Which designations does it cover?
If you have Blue Cross, Green Shield, Manulife, Sunlife or another extended health benefit from your workplace, you likely have funding for counselling services. All insurance plans are different. So, please contact your extended health benefit provider to find out if you have coverage and for which designations you have coverage. Some plans offer funding specifically for Psychologists, Registered Social Workers, or Registered Counselling Therapists. Ask your insurer which designations they cover before you explore clinicians in private practice. When you find a therapist, please ask the clinic whether they offer direct billing, or if they require that services be paid upfront with receipts to be submitted to their insurance provider. You can find out more about Wholetherapy’s fees and insurance information here.
5) Am I of indigenous descent? Is it possible that the issues I am dealing with today are as a result of old, intergenerational trauma or current racially-based trauma?
If so, you are likely eligible for counselling services under First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada. If you are the descendent of a residential school survivor, a day school survivor, or are related to any Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, you likely have access to coverage for long-term counselling through this program. To access long-term counselling through this program, contact a private practice near you and ask if they are FNIHB providers. At Wholetherapy, all of our clinicians are registered FNIHB providers and we would be honoured to work with you.
6) Did my mental health concern arise as a result of a workplace injury?
If so, you may be eligible for counselling services covered through a Workers Compensation Claim. Please contact your HR department with your employer to learn more about filing a claim. Once you have approval, your case manager will likely seek out a counsellor or a therapist on your behalf. However, if you find a clinician that seems like a fit for you, you may be able to request counselling services from that particular therapist. Do not hesitate to reach out to private practices in your area to find out if the therapist of your choice is a WCB provider. Here at Wholetherapy, some of our clinicians are registered WCB providers.
Of course, once you’ve walked through these six questions, choosing where to seek therapy from can still feel overwhelming.
Often it’s a matter of simply reaching out with a quick phone call to ask the question ‘Is this the right place for me?’ A good therapy practice will always take the time to hear you out, answer your questions, and point you in the right direction - even if that means referring you to another therapist or mental health service provider.
At Wholetherapy you are always welcome to give us a call, or send us an email, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. We’ll do our best to find you a therapy plan that fits your unique needs and helps you move beyond coping and towards whole healing!