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Prioritizing Your Wellbeing: Mental Health Resources In Canada

Moving to a new country can make us feel stressed, anxious, and even depressed. Sometimes we feel like we need someone to talk to but don't know where to start. The harsh truth is that many people struggle with mental health issues, and sometimes it can be hard to find the right support.

Let’s face it, we live stressful lives, between school, job hunting, networking attempts and our part-time jobs (sometimes, multiple part-time jobs), it’s very difficult to take care of our mental health needs. On top of this, the ever-increasing cost of living makes Vancouver a ruthless place to live in despite its beauty.

But we’re not alone. Mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, culture, income, or education. Fortunately for you, there are many resources and services available to help us face these health challenges. In this article, we will provide an overview of how to access mental health services in British Columbia.


Where To Go If We Need Mental Health Support In Canada

The first step is to reach out to our family doctor or nurse practitioner. They can assess our mental health, prescribe medication if needed, refer us to a specialist or a community program, and provide ongoing support and follow-up. 

If you don’t have a family doctor, you can find one through the HealthLink BC (BC) or Health Care Connect (Ontario) websites or call 811 from any of these two provinces to speak to a health service navigator.

Another option is to visit a walk-in clinic or an urgent and primary care centre (UPCC). These are places where you can get same-day or next-day care for non-emergency health issues, including mental health concerns. We can use the same resources from above to find a walk-in clinic or a UPCC near us.

Now, for more sensitive situations that require immediate help, you can call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Finally, consider visiting the mental health support website from the Government of Canada to get resources that are specific to your province.


Improve Your Mental Health With Online Resources

In addition to this, we can access virtual mental health support. These are online services that can help us cope with our emotions, learn new skills, and connect with others who understand what we're going through. They can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, using our phones, tablets, or computers. Some are free, while others may have a fee or require a referral.

  • Wellness Together Canada is a free online platform that provides mental health and substance use support. The platform offers a variety of resources, such as articles, videos, courses, apps, peer support, wellness assessments and counselling. All the content can be accessed anonymously and if we decide to create an account, it can be deleted at any time since the platform has a commitment to privacy and confidentiality.  To learn more or access the services, you can visit Wellness Together Canada.

  • Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is another great resource for information about mental health that will help you access the right resources. They even have quizzes for you to assess your stress index and your work-life balance. Learn more about it by visiting the CMHA.

If you live in British Columbia however, there are many additional resources you can have access to, including:

  • BounceBack: BounceBack is a free program that teaches how to manage low mood, stress, anxiety, and depression. We can choose from online videos, workbooks, or coaching sessions. We don't need a referral; the only requirement is to be 15 years or older. To learn more or sign up, visit BounceBack BC.

  • Foundry: This is a network of centers and online services that offer mental health and wellness support for young people aged 12 to 24. People in that age range can access counselling, peer support, group sessions, and other resources online. Registration is needed through the website at Foundry Virtual BC.

  • MindHealthBC. With this resource, you can take a self-assessment, get personalized recommendations, and access online programs and services. Some of the resources may require a referral or a fee, however. You can access this service through HelpStartsHere

Benefit From Self-Care Activities

Protecting our mental health is also about practising a series of small day-to-day activities to ensure we stay healthy. Here are four 30-minute to 1-hour activities you can do to improve your emotional state: 

  1. Try deep breathing exercises (Box Breathing is great)

  2. Start a workout, whether at home or the gym

  3. Go for walks (bonus points if you can be around nature, like a park)

  4. Reach out to your friends and loved ones

Bonus: The Hidden Gem Of Mental Health In Vancouver

There’s one more public service that is worth mentioning, and it’s one that not many people are aware of. We’re talking about the Access and Assessment Centre at the Vancouver General Hospital.

This center has no cost for adult residents and is open from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm 7 days a week. (including holidays). No referral is needed to access any of their services.

Initially, an assessment by a case worker will determine our situation. In case we don’t need urgent help, an appointment with a psychiatrist will be made for the next couple of weeks. However, if we need immediate help, we can get admitted to the hospital where a psychiatrist will prescribe medication and tailor a treatment to our needs. For more information about the ACC, we can call 604-675-3700 or access the Access and Assessment Centre (AAC).

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that we are not alone, and help is available whenever we need it. We deserve to feel better and live a fulfilling life. We hope you find these resources helpful, and we wish you all the best.

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