NAVIGATING THE SYSTEM:
How to Find Mental Health Support
Emotional Health Editor, KBI Inspire Magazine
Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario. Visit her online at: maureenpollardmsw.com
When things are difficult and you’re in emotional pain, it can be hard to know where to turn. In fact, we get so used to just pushing through the tough times that it can even be a challenge to notice that you need help.
Pay attention to how you’re feeling, and seek support if you find:
You just aren’t feeling like yourself.
You are in emotional pain or facing a crisis.
You have thoughts of suicide.
If you’re experiencing a crisis, you can call a crisis support line. These lines are answered by people who care, and who are trained to support you in coping with an immediate crisis by talking you through the situation you’re facing, listening carefully, then offering information and some ideas about what might help. There is a list of crisis lines and resources at the bottom of this article as a starting point.
When there is an immediate risk of harm, you can call 9-1-1 for emergency services to assist with transportation to medical facilities. Be aware that this option is likely to involve a police response, and for some people in some circumstances, this may escalate the situation.
You can go to a medical facility, where you will be assessed by the care team. If you are actively planning suicide, you may be admitted to the hospital for observation, support and further assessment. This can be an opportunity to address your needs in a safe setting with access to care providers such as psychiatrists, but it is also a very controlled environment where care tends to be intrusive.
If your situation is not immediately life threatening, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a counsellor. Family physicians are often aware of services in your community that may be helpful with whatever problems you are handling.
If you don’t have a family doctor, you can find local services through an internet search. Type in some key words related to your problems and the name of your location, and you should come up with a list of local counsellors and agencies that offer services that can help. You may also find a directory of potential supports by calling 2-1-1, where that service is available.
When you find a resource, such as an agency or counsellor, that seems like it will fit your needs, it is a good idea to send an email or call to ask questions you have. You can ask:
What age you need to be for service?
Can I communicate with you by text message instead of phone or email?
What programs do you have to help with my problem?
Is there any cost for your programs?
When programs are free, there is often a waiting list before you can receive help. However, places with a waiting list also often have some option to provide a bit of support while you wait. You can also call crisis support lines for additional help while you wait.
It can be a challenge to find support, but there are many kind and knowledgable professionals ready to help. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right help for your specific situation, but don’t give up! You’re worth it!
Additional Resources & Helplines: