5 Low cost or free mental health services in Canada
By Brittany Stuckless
Posted on January 24, 2022
Canadian residents have access to free universal healthcare. That said, many mental health services, such as private therapists, are expensive in Canada. There are also lengthy waitlist times for free and low-cost services. As a result, it’s essential for newcomers to learn about more affordable and accessible mental health resources that don’t have long waitlist times. Below are five examples of free and low-cost mental health resources.
Access Alliance provides mental health services to vulnerable people living in Toronto, Ont. Newcomers, refugees, and the LGBTQ2+ community can take advantage of 16 free one-on-one counselling sessions that last for 45 to 60 minutes each.
Access Alliance also provides group therapy sessions and expressive arts classes. The latter is a unique yet helpful way to release stress and tension. Access Alliance is beneficial for newcomers who feel alone and may be struggling to adapt to life in Canada. They provide services in over 180 languages and offer a safe environment in Canada’s largest city.
BetterHelp is a virtual, low-cost counselling service available to Canadians. The cost is around $80 weekly, and you can cancel your membership at any time. It works by matching you with the right therapist after you fill in your details. You can choose to see another therapist on the platform if the one assigned to you isn’t a good fit.
While BetterHelp isn’t necessarily cheap, you only have to pay once a month. If you’re spending $80 per week, this ends up being around $240 per month. In comparison, many private therapists charge $175 to $200 a session. If you prefer to see a therapist once a week, BetterHelp is much more affordable in comparison.
TeleCBT is a counselling service offering virtual appointments. If you have an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card, you can enjoy free services. As it’s covered by OHIP, you must be living in Ontario. You will need to book an intake appointment before receiving OHIP covered services.
TeleCBT focuses on using cognitive behaviour therapy to tackle a wide variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, panic, OCD, social anxiety, and more. You can see the complete list of therapists and their focuses here. If you don’t have an OHIP card, standard fees apply. A counselling appointment with a registered social worker costs $125 and $225 with a psychologist.
AlbilitiCBT is another virtual counselling program offering low cost cognitive behavioural therapy. The services are entirely free for residents of Ontario and Manitoba aged 16 and over. AbilitiCBT started offering services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to help people manage the stress and uncertainty of the virus and lockdowns.
While the program is free for Ontarians and Manitobans, newcomer residents in other provinces can use the program for $125 a week. This cost does seem a little steep, but it is less in comparison to private therapy. As previously mentioned, private therapists can charge anywhere from $175 to $200 a session.
Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is a well-known Canadian crisis hotline that also offers mental health services to youth under 16. Youth can contact a crisis responder about issues like abuse, bullying at school, self-injury, and other types of emotional turmoil. Youth can also contact a crisis responder via text or Facebook messenger, which can be useful for kids or teens who are uncomfortable speaking on the phone.
Crisis responders then guide youth in the right direction and provide them with information on other Kids Help Phone services. For example, professional counselling services are available via online chat, which is open from 7 p.m. to midnight eastern time. All Kids Help Phone services are free of charge and available in English, French, and Arabic.