Free mental health therapy ontario
The mental health system in Canada is—let’s say—complex. If you find yourself in a position where you or your loved one is struggling, would you know where to turn, who to call, or where to go? If you don’t, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are thousands of programs available country-wide that can help you on your path to recovery. To help get you started, we partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto to compile a list of free mental health resources. These services connect you with mental health professionals directly, through text, call, e-mail and live chat.
What would you add to the list? Let us know and we will create an ongoing resource for anyone struggling with their mental health.
*If you are in crisis, please call 911.
1. Wellness Together Canada
Wellness Together Canada is a free mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad, with: immediate text support, information and videos on common mental health issues, mental wellness programs you can do on your own and with coaching, monitored communities of support and individual phone, video, and text counselling. Learn more: 1-866-585-0445
WHO IT IS FOR: All Canadians
2. Together All
Together All is a free, safe, online peer-to-peer mental health community that is accessible 24/7 to help those experiencing anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Commissioned by over 250 organizations globally, Together All is an online service that provides access to millions with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues through online peer-to-peer support.
WHO IT IS FOR: All Ontarians aged 16+
3. BounceBack Ontario
BounceBack Ontario is a free skill-building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario. It is designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness.
WHO IT IS FOR: All Ontarians aged 15+
4. Crisis Services Canada
Crisis Services Canada is a 24/7 national network of distress, crisis and suicide prevention line services. This service is available across Canada via toll-free phone, or text in English. Our toll-free phone service is also available in French. This means anyone in Canada that is thinking about, is or has been affected by suicide, can reach out across a variety of media, and feel supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Call 1.833.456.4566Text 45645
WHO IT IS FOR: All Canadians
5. LGBT Youthline Ontario
LGBT Youthline Ontario is an Ontario-wide peer-support for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, queer and questioning young people through text and live chat with peer support volunteers. Their services are available from Sunday to Friday from 4:00 PM – 9:30 PM. Text 647-694-4275 Live Chat www.youthline.ca/
Email [email protected]
WHO IT IS FOR: LGBTTQQ2SI individuals across Ontario
6. Distress Centres of Greater Toronto
Distress Centres of Greater Toronto offer free, 24/7 support to individuals in crisis and/or experiencing emotional distress. Services are available via hotline, online chat and text. They are Canada’s oldest volunteer delivered crisis, emotional support and suicide prevention + intervention + postvention service agency.
Call 416-408-4357 (24/7 support)
Text 45645 (texting available from 4pm – 12am ET)
WHO IT IS FOR: Individuals living in the GTA
AbilitiCBT is an internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) program that you can access from any device, any time. It is free to anyone in Ontario or Manitoba. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of therapy. It works by helping you understand and change the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are causing you problems. AbilitiCBT works the same way, but virtually. AbilitiCBT’s user-friendly platform makes it convenient to get help when you need it, where you need it.
WHO IT IS FOR: All Canadians
8. Good2Talk Helpline
Good2Talk provides confidential support services for post-secondary students in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Students can receive information and referrals about services and supports for mental health, addictions and well-being on and off campus and speak anonymously with a professional counsellor.
Text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
WHO IT IS FOR: Post-secondary students in Ontario/Nova Scotia
9. Ontario Caregiver Helpline
The Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) exists to support Ontario’s 3.3 million caregivers; ordinary people who provide physical and emotional support to a family member, partner, friend or neighbour. We support caregivers by being their one point of access to information, so they have what they need to be successful in their role.
Live chat www.ontariocaregiver.ca
WHO IT IS FOR: Caregivers in Ontario
10. Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is a free, national, 24/7 e-mental health service providing counselling, information and referrals text and phone-based support. Kids Help Phone also provides information on how to access community support services for youth.
Questions & inquiries www.kidshelpphone.ca/get-involved/contact-us/
WHO IT IS FOR: All kids, teens and young adults across Canada
The MindBeacon Therapist Guided Program is 100% covered by the Government of Ontario to support all Ontario residents through stress and mental well-being concerns during COVID-19. There are no appointments to keep – you complete the therapy when it works for you, through secure message-based therapy that is always guided and supported by a Registered Ontario Therapist.
At MindBeacon, your therapist will guide you through a 12-week program. They will personally select readings, exercises, and activities to help you develop new skills. There are no face-to-face appointments – instead you have access to unlimited secure text-based messages that they’ll always respond to within a couple days.
Email [email protected]
Questions & inquiries www.mindbeacon.com/ontario
WHO IT IS FOR: Everyone in Ontario
NEED ADDITIONAL HELP NAVIGATING SERVICES?
There are multiple services and organizations that specialize in helping Canadian’s navigate the mental health service. A short list of them can be found below. It is important to note that depending on the severity of your symptoms, your family doctor can refer/connect you to other mental health services. If you are in crisis, please call 911. Mental health is health, it is important to seek help if you need it (the world is a brighter place with you in it).
Family Navigation Project is a free program that provides help to youth, 13 to 26 years old experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues, and their families navigate the system more easily, to find and gain access to resources, such as service providers and treatment centres.
Connex Ontario provides free and confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness or gambling. They are funded by the Government of Ontario. Their system navigation and information services are live-answer 24/7, confidential, and free.
Ontario 211 connects people to the right information and services. Dial 211 to find out about or get connected to community, health, and social services across Canada.
As the coronavirus pandemic changes everyday life in dramatic ways, it’s also shaking the foundation of our psychological and emotional well-being. “Our basic premise for mental health is feeling safe and secure,” explains psychiatrist Dr. Sabeena Chopra, who works with Stella’s Place, a charitable organization providing support to young people in Toronto. “Now, we’re facing such uncertainty — about our physical health, the health of our loved ones, our jobs, our housing.”
Making matters worse, the COVID-19 crisis is also hindering what Dr. Chopra calls one of the most protective factors we have: social connection. “For some people, there is sometimes a great degree of social isolation even at baseline,” she says, “but now we’re all experiencing it, in a way we never have before.”
If you feel alone, overwhelmed or in crisis, there’s always someone you can call (or text) for help. Here are just some of the free, confidential resources available in Canada, depending on your needs.
If you’re a young person in any type of crisis
For decades, Kids Help Phone has been picking up calls from youth in distress 24/7 and providing counselling. You can still phone 1-800-668-6868 for support, but if you don’t have the privacy to talk out loud, there’s a text-based program, too: the Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, which is also free and available across Canada around the clock. To connect with a volunteer crisis responder, text “HOME” (or “PARLER” for help in French) to 686868.
If you’re looking for one-on-one counselling
A non-profit initiative of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), eMentalHealth.ca has a thorough database of mental health programs available across Canada, for Canadians of all ages. You can search for services including counselling and therapy by location, then filter by criteria — such as age and “no fees” — to find community services near you.
To use Stella’s Place as an example, the charitable organization’s clinical team offers one-on-one counselling by phone and video chat to people aged 16 to 29 in Toronto; call 416-461-2345, ext. 0, or email [email protected] to book a virtual appointment. They also have a free mobile app, BeanBagChat, which connects youth who want to talk (but aren’t in crisis) with a peer supporter or professional counsellor.
If you’re an Indigenous person in distress
Funded by the Government of Canada and geared toward Indigenous people nationwide, the Hope for Wellness Help Line provides immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention. You can call 1-855-242-3310, available 24/7, to talk in English or French, as well as Cree, Ojibway or Inuktitut upon request. Or you can use the chat box on the website (English and French only).
If you’re searching for anonymous community support
Big White Wall, funded by the Government of Ontario and free for all Ontarians to access, offers a way to find support from a like-minded community. It’s an always-open online forum focused on mental health topics, where members dealing with similar challenges can help each other. (To ensure safety, the conversations, or “talkabouts,” are moderated 24/7 by trained practitioners.)
If you’re thinking about suicide (or are worried about a loved one)
Any time of the day or night, you can dial 1-833-456-4566 (available in English and French) to reach the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, run by Crisis Services Canada, a national network of non-profit distress and crisis service centres. From 4 p.m. to midnight ET, you can also text “Start” to 45645 for support (currently only available in English), but do note, their website warns that online and texting services are slower at the moment, so they are encouraging calls instead.
If you’re struggling with substance use
If the pandemic is exacerbating feelings of anxiety or depression and driving you to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, you’re not alone. But substance use can make mental health problems worse, as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health notes. For support, contact an addiction helpline in your province/territory; the Government of Canada maintains a list.
If you’re experiencing domestic violence
Social distancing and stay-home isolation — the measures required to flatten the curve for COVID-19 — mean people at risk of abuse may not be able to access the support and protection of friends and family.
If you’re in an abusive situation but are unable to leave your home right now, you can still call a shelter near you to receive information or just to talk — you don’t have to be staying at one to get help. (Similarly, if you need advice on how to support a loved one experiencing domestic violence, you can contact a shelter for that, too.) ShelterSafe.ca maintains a comprehensive, clickable map of women’s shelters across Canada, most of which have staff ready to answer your call around the clock. It also has a list of provincial/territorial domestic violence crisis lines.
Ending Violence Association of Canada, a non-profit organization, has a list of sites and phone numbers of resources across Canada for victims of domestic abuse and those affected by it. They also note that if you’re in immediate danger, you should call 911.
Wing Sze Tang is a beauty and health writer in Toronto. Find her at wingszetang.com.