Free or subsidized therapy in Toronto?
July 16, 2006 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Depressed and broke in Toronto ... is there such a thing as therapy covered by OHIP?

Wondering if anyone can suggest a way to get therapy that's free or subsidized. I'm massively in debt and have been depressed (not because of the debt) for the better part of a decade.

Note: I know an MD can prescribe anti-depressants. I've tried that over the years and it hasn't helped--I need to speak with someone more qualified.


Thank you. Emails can be sent to
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
This link seems to be broken, but Google has a cache of it:

How much will therapy cost? from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) website

Looks like OHIP will cover it if it's from a psychiatrist. You can usually get a recommendation from your doctor.
posted by heatherann at 8:10 PM on July 16, 2006

What heatherann said. OHIP will cover many things, including paramedical treatments (naturopath, nutritionist, RMT, psychologist, etc) and psychiatry, so long as it's medically necessary and referred by your GP.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:19 PM on July 16, 2006

It is possible, but the waiting lists can be long.
If you've tried treatments for years that didn't work, you should have been referred to a specialist. Contact your doctor and ask for a referral to CAMH. It should be possible to see a psychiatrist there fairly quickly and they can arrange therapy as well. They will likely recommend both medication and therapy together and they may enrol you in a research study to justify the free treatment.
If you're looking for free, it may be your best option.
posted by Zetetics at 8:33 PM on July 16, 2006

I'm not sure of your exact situation, but here in the land of unaffordable, unsubsidized health care (the US), it's possible to find free/sliding scale therapy through university health care, and I've heard of some women's health centers that also offer it. Those might be some resources to look into, if you apply to either demographic.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:21 PM on July 16, 2006

I'd call your local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association [Toronto Branch] and ask them about what options are available to you. I know there are a number of choices: private psychiatrist, community mental health services, psychologist, community nurse/social worker. Some are run through community mental health services and some not. The choice will depend on how long your willing to wait and how much of an emergency they think it is.

and they may enrol you in a research study to justify the free treatment.

Eek! be a guinea pig? Ugh no way, mental health services (if offered by government agencies is covered under Medicare and free to all, no need to jump through any hoops) the options I listed wont ask you to run on a tread mill for your hour of talk time and nor should you have to, your insurance covers it.
posted by squeak at 9:48 PM on July 16, 2006

oops this, "if offered by government agencies" really should be, "if funded by the government". One day I'll learn to write what I mean *sigh*

ps: Or you could start by looking here.
posted by squeak at 10:30 PM on July 16, 2006

When a close friend was getting divorced she was able to get a great therapist that charged her based on her income, so she was paying only $20 per hour session. She called the Mental Health Service Information # for Ontario (which squeak linked to) & asked for a list of therapists who charge on a sliding scale & was seeing someone (that she was very happy with) within 2 weeks.

Phone: 1-866-531-2600

If you're a woman you may want to also check out your local women's community centre as they usually have peer counseling services & generally have ties to therapists who don't charge or do the sliding scale thing.

You might also want to look into the free services that The Gerstein Centre offers.
posted by zarah at 11:08 PM on July 16, 2006

I have to agree with following up with a psychiatrist (or a GP that has experience following a depressed patient). I've heard that it can take many attempts to find the right drug (and dosage for that matter), and that combination therapies can be more effective. Plus, psychiatrists are generally covered by MSP coverage (ie: they're free).

If you're looking for short term therapy from a non-doctor, try the local community colleges. Many of them have counseling programs that are free. Ditto with major universities - UofT will likely have a student therapy office that can point you to a program that isn't just for students.
posted by Vantech at 12:18 AM on July 17, 2006

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