If you do a quick google search typing ‘counseling nearby’ you will find a lot of sources and it might overwhelm you or you might get frustrated. Online help has many different counseling options, individuals, family, online chat, etc. Still, it is not good enough when you have to pay a huge amount to get help.

Screenshot of Google Search

There are various ways one can seek and get help according to their needs but the tricky part about various ways is not all are covered by insurance. At this time, unfortunately, Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellors (CCC) are not included in the basic MSP coverage that most people have. The clinical community is currently working towards having our services included. If you are working for an employer that provides extended health benefits then you will either need to check with your Human Resources Department or call your insurance broker to get clarity around psychological services. The coverage is based on the plan that the employer purchased into which may or may not include counseling with an RCC and/or CCC. For more information please visit their program website: AMS GSS Health Coverage Douglas College: Current students are enrolled in the Students' Union Benefits Plan which covers "Supplemental Health" that includes psychological services from RCC. 

E.g of one service plan in a counseling service website

I have always been a huge advocate of mental health, even back in Bangladesh, while growing up I saw how people look at this as if it's something people need to be ashamed of and hide from society. This really used to piss me off I have always been that weird kid who would have opinions that are “unconventional” to others because I didn’t see the way society or people told me to look and understand things.

Being in Canada for 4 years where you have the freedom to choose and speak without being criticized is what made me appreciate and find peace. It helped me set free of my spirit and soul. Now I am so passionate I found myself working towards this cause professionally.

Time & Cost

Mental illness affects one in five Canadians and costs nearly $50-billion a year. Canadian physicians bill provincial governments $1-billion a year for "counseling and psychotherapy" - one-third of which goes to family doctors - a service many of them acknowledge they are not best suited to provide, and that doesn't come close to covering patient needs. “I am making them feel cared for, I am providing a supportive ear that they may not get anywhere else," says Dr. Batya Grundland, a physician who has been in family practice at Toronto's Women's College Hospital for almost a decade. A 2013 report commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association calculated that, based on predicted need, and assuming no coverage from private healthcare plans, providing an average of six sessions of therapy a year would cost an estimated $2.8-billion annually. 

A family doctor can primary examines symptoms for any mental health condition. They are a good resource for information and a great place to start getting help. Another well-known way is to seek a Psychiatrists. They are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They are covered under BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), but you will need a referral from your family doctor or mental health program to see one. As with doctors, they can prescribe medications. Many psychiatrists also do counseling. And lastly which is the basic resource at your disposal is a Counsellor which includes psychologists, clinical counselors, and social workers. These are professionals who can help diagnose mental illnesses and provide counseling that can look at your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Counselors are not doctors, so they can’t prescribe medication.

After being in touch with counseling it was like I woke from a long sleep which drained me all these years. Sadly what I experienced and learned about is Counsellors was getting free support means you have no power over when your counselor gets changed every two semesters or even one.

You may be able to access low-cost counseling programs in your community.

Community sources of counseling:

  • Schools and campuses provide counseling services to students.
  • Many workplaces also offer counseling services through benefit programs like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and through extended health coverage. EAP counselors provide short-term counseling to deal with specific issues. Most EAP programs are for both the employee and the employee’s family.
  • If you belong to a certain group, you may have access to counseling through special services. For example, military veterans can access counseling through Veterans Affairs Canada. An Aboriginal person can access counseling through their Band, Friendship Centre, Aboriginal Mental Health program, or a branch of Health Canada. A member from a faith community may have access to a helpline or counselor through the networks connected to their place of worship.

There are Mental health teams in most communities in BC that have both an adult mental health team (or center) as well as one for children and youth under 19. Mental health centers use teams of different kinds of professionals including social workers, nurses, mental health workers, peer support workers, occupational therapists, and others. Physicians often consult, as well. Mental health teams provide assessment and an ongoing connection for people with long-term mental illnesses. They can also provide life skills support and connection to other community assistance, such as income or housing. You can refer yourself, but centers appreciate a referral from a family doctor (and busier centers will require a referral). They are covered by MSP. Some mental health services may be covered by MSP or employee health benefits. Some service providers may offer a sliding scale for payment based on your income Local organizations can help you find resources Mental health services like counseling or therapy may be covered by your BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) when you access the service through a hospital or mental health clinic. Find your local health authority to learn more about counseling services in your area. HealthLink BC's Find Services tool and Locator app can also help you find services. Private mental health services can be expensive. While there is no simple answer, there are several different places you can look: If you have health benefits at work, ask about your coverage. Some psychologists, clinical counselors, or other service providers may offer a sliding scale, which means that their costs are based on your income.

This all seemed to be great news as there are so many resources but in reality, it is a bit opposite. For instance, if you are seeking help through your school and campus services you might have a different counselor each semester or so. Personally, this frustrates me because seeking counseling itself is a big step, and to top it off if you have to keep on having a new counselor the healing process can get lengthier. So to avoid this situation you can go seek counseling outside of school but there you have to pay from your own pocket for a Counsellor or Psychiatric.

Ultimately, no matter which way you go there is no standardized system for the cost of counseling at the moment. If you look at statistics the depression cases among youth are skyrocketing each year. This is very unfortunate, for young people who have a financial barrier or other limitations seeking help becomes harder when you think about if you have the capabilities to bear the cost. Unemployment rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses. In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. 

Fast Facts:

  • 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
  • Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.
  • 34% of Ontario high-school students indicate a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression). 14% indicate a serious level of psychological distress.
  • Canadians in the lowest income group are 3 to 4 times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health.
  • Studies in various Canadian cities indicate that between 23% and 67% of homeless people report having a mental illness.
  • About 4,000 Canadians per year die by suicide—an average of almost 11 suicides a day.15 It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • More than 75% of suicides involve men, but women attempt suicide 3 to 4 times more often.
  • First Nations youth die by suicide about 5 to 6 times more often than non-Aboriginal youth. Suicide rates for Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average.
  • Just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to 72% who would discuss a diagnosis of cancer and 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes.
  • 46% of Canadians thought people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behavior, and 27% said they would be fearful of being around someone who suffers from serious mental illness.
  • An estimated 75% of children with mental disorders do not access specialized treatment services.

And many more.....

There are so many grey areas you would be as confused as me at the end. Because to some, they would refer you to free resources like community services. Which might not be something you need or comfortable with.

Finding the perfect counselor can make or break your path to healing. You need to trial and test out many different ones before you find the one you truly comfortable with. But when the cost is so much can you really afford to look through a bunch of them?