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Written by Shannon Henderson and Susan Seto

Looking for help with depression?

25/04/2016 3:31:27 PM | 0 comments |
When you experience something upsetting like the loss of a job, sadness is a healthy response. When you get over your feelings about the situation, your sadness should subside. If you continue to feel down, tearful or irritable, regardless of what is occurring in your life, that’s a sign something is out of balance. It may be depression.

Depression can sap your energy, motivation and ability to experience joy, satisfaction, connection and meaning. Your ability to manage stressors will also be impacted, and you may find you’re more impatient, quicker to anger, and quicker to break down in tears or exhaustion.

If those symptoms sound familiar and you’ve had them for more than two weeks, there is every reason to be hopeful: depression is very treatable. The best place to start is with a visit to your family doctor, the main source of professional support for managing depression by many people. There are also many other service providers who offer support for depression, some of which are self-referral-based and others which require a doctor’s referral.

Download and share our Guide to Depression Support Services.

1. Fraser Health Crisis Line

In a mental health crisis and need urgent help immediately. Confidential emotional support, crisis intervention and community resources info available 24/7 by phone from trained volunteers.
  • Cost: Free
  • How to access: Call 604.951.8855 or 1.877.820.7444
  • Referral required? Self-referral


2. Family doctor/walk-in clinic

Your doctor is the best place to start. Can rule out any other causes for your symptoms. Can prescribe medication, do limited counselling and refer you to a psychiatrist or other special services.
  • Cost: Covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). Prescribed medication costs may be partially or fully paid by workplace extended health plan or provincial/federal prescription-assistance programs.
  • How to access: To find a family doctor, contact the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons for a list of doctors accepting patients at www.cpsbc.ca or 1-800-461-3008 (toll-free in BC). Find walk-in clinics under Medical Clinics in the Yellow Pages.
  • Referral required? Self-referral


3. Community mental health centres

Community mental health centres provide support to adult (19+) residents experiencing serious mental disorders, serious and persistent mental illness, and addictions. They can also refer to other local resources. Assessment and support, and connection to other community resources.
  • Cost: Covered by MSP
  • How to access: Dial 2-1-1 or visit fraserhealth.ca to find your community mental health centre
  • Referral required? Self-referral


4. Employee assistance program/extended health coverage

Many workplaces offer access to counselling services through benefit programs like an employee assistance program and through extended health coverage. Connection to short-term counselling services.
  • Cost: You may have access to a clinical counsellor, social worker or psychologist for a certain number of visits or cost maximum
  • How to access: Contact your human resources (HR) department
  • Referral required? Self-referral


5. Specific group services

If you belong to a certain group, you may have access to counselling through special services. For example, Aboriginals can access counselling through their Band, Friendship Centre, Aboriginal Mental Health program, or a branch of Health Canada. Members of a faith community may have access to a helpline or counsellor through networks connected to their place of worship. Connection to short-term counselling services.
  • Cost: Depends on the group’s assistance program.
  • How to access: Contact group’s main office for more info.
  • Referral required? Self-referral


6. Psychiatrist 

Psychiatrists are doctors specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Can prescribe medication and use counselling to support recovery.
  • Cost: Covered by MSP. Prescribed medication costs may be partially or fully paid by workplace extended health plan or provincial/federal prescription-assistance programs.
  • How to access: Contact your family doctor
  • Referral required? Doctor referral


7. Psychologist

The vast majority of psychologists hold a doctoral degree in psychology and are registered through the College of Psychologists of B.C. under the Health Professions Act. Psychological testing and assessment of emotional and cognitive functions, diagnosis of emotional and cognitive disorders, and use evidence-based psychological treatments and psychotherapies. Often specialize in an area such as family relationships or biofeedback. Cannot prescribe medication.
  • Cost: Private pay – around $200/hr. Only covered by MSP if services provided through a hospital program or mental health team. Employee benefits programs may give access to a psychologist for a certain number of visits or cost maximum.
  • How to access: Contact your HR department or find a psychologist here.
  • Referral required? Self-referral


8. Counsellor

Registered or certified counsellors (Registered Professional Counsellor or Registered Clinical Counsellor) teach skills to improve well-being. Assess mental health problems and use different counselling methods to help you manage and overcome emotional issues. Cannot diagnose and prescribe medication.
  • Cost: Private pay –around $110/50 minutes. Only covered by MSP through a hospital program or mental health team. Employee benefits programs may give access to a counsellor for a certain number of visits or cost maximum. May be low-cost counselling programs in your community.
  • How to access: Contact your HR department or go to find a counsellor here. For info on low-cost counselling programs, dial 2-1-1 or visit bc211.ca.
  • Referral required? Self-referral


9. Peer supporters

Peer supporters have experiences of mental illness or support a loved one. Provide support and understanding, help navigate the mental health system, provide link with community services, and support work towards personal goals.
  • Cost: Free
  • How to access: Call 2-1-1 or visit bc211.ca for peer-run groups
  • Referral required? Self-referral


10. Support groups

Some groups are formal, led by a mental health professional, while others are more casual groups of peers. Provides a safe place to share experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand.


11. Self-help programs

Self-directed resources for use at home. Work at your own pace.
  • Referral required? Doctor referral for BounceBack.

Other resources

Self-help

More information



This article was originally published in the Healthier You Spring 2016 magazine. Read more stories online.

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