Suffering with Mental Illness? Here are 5 places you can go

In our previous blog post, we outlined some of the health care options available to Toronto newcomers. For this post, we wanted to address an equally important subject: Mental Health.

According to a report prepared for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem every year.

Mental Illness and Addiction can refer to a wide range of disorders that impact our mood, thinking and everyday behaviour, including depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) and problem gambling. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are caused by a wide range of genetic, environmental and social factors. People of all ages, ethnicities, religions, occupations and with all levels of income and education can be impacted by mental illness.

If you or someone you know are suffering from mental health or addiction problems, you do not have to suffer alone.

Here are 5 services offered in the GTA to help you get the mental health care and support you need to get yourself back up on your feet.

  1. The Ontario Mental Health Helpline

Funded by the Government of Ontario, the Mental Health Helpline is one of three ConnexOntario services available to provide information for people experiencing difficulties with gambling, drugs or alcohol and mental illness. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone (1-866-531-2600), email or webchat. The Ontario Mental Health Helpline is there to provide contact information for local services, personalized support and encouragement, and basic education. All services are live, confidential and free of charge.

If you do not speak English or French, translation services will be accessed on your behalf. Simply call the helpline number, identify your preferred language and participate in a three-way call with a translator. Translation services are provided in over 170 languages, including Spanish and Portuguese.

ConnexOntario also maintains the most comprehensive database of healthcare services provided across Ontario. They maintain regular contact with service providers to ensure up-to-date information on treatment beds, support groups, crisis lines and other services. Requests for statistical data can be made to

For more information on ConnexOntario Services, please visit:

Drug and Alcohol Helpline 1-800-565-8603

Problem Gambling Helpline 1-888-230-3505

  1. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

CAMH is Canada’s largest teaching hospital and research centre dedicated solely to the study and treatment of mental health and addiction. They offer a wide range of in and out patient care programs, including: addiction services and detox programs, complex mental illness, geriatric mental health, mood and anxiety disorders, depression and bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, gender identity clinic, etc. They also provide specialized clinics designed to meet the specific mental health needs of women and newly arrived refugees.

Many CAMH services do require a referral from a physician or nurse practitioner. However, if you are experiencing crisis, emergency care is available at CAMH’s Psychiatric Emergency Department, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Interpretation and translation services are available to all CAMH clients free of charge and can be made available at all assessments, consultations, intakes and meetings.

  1. The Access Point

The Toronto Mental Health and Addictions Access Point provides a centralized location to apply for individual mental health and addiction support services and housing. They coordinate with a large network of social workers, supportive housing and medical and legal practitioners to offer intensive case management, early psychosis intervention and supportive group housing for those overcoming addiction and severe mental health issues. Individuals 14 years of age or older, currently residing in the metro Toronto area with a documented history of mental health and addiction problems are eligible to apply for services via The Access Point.  To apply, visit The Access Point website, select the services you are interested in, and fill out the application form. Please note that many services do require medical and/or legal referrals. Documentation proving a history of hospitalization, homelessness and/or encounters with the Criminal Justice system may be required.

If English or French is not your preferred language, The Access Point will access interpreters on your behalf and all efforts will be made to match you with care providers who work in your preferred language.

Click here to read The Access Point brochure in Spanish. Haga clic aquí para ver el folleto en español.

  1. The Canadian Mental Health Association

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is a charity and volunteer based organization that offers information and decision making support services for individuals and their families who are impacted by mental illness. In Toronto, the CMHA aids in accessing community support programs, employment services, family support groups, housing programs, and social and therapeutic opportunities.

CMHA-TO provides a series of workshops geared both towards individuals and organizations on a wide range of topics including suicide intervention, coping with stress, mental health in the workplace and youth mental health []. They also offer a free workshop series funded by CIC to specifically address mental health concerns within newcomer communities. Entitled The Opening Doors Project, this two-hour workshop is designed for ESL learners, and can be custom tailored to meet specific audience needs.

For more information on the Opening Doors Project, check out their video, visit their website, or send them an email.

  1. The Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture

CCVT is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to assisting survivors overcome the long-term effects of torture, political violence and war. They offer a wide range of programs for newcomers, from language and skills training, settlement support and youth programs to onsite counselling and support groups. CCVT drop-in support group offers a comfortable, informal environment in which survivors can meet, discuss and offer each other mutual support. Five separate support groups are available to meet the specific concerns of: women, Spanish-speakers, Francophone parents, African women, Eritreans and Ethiopians, and Farsi/Dari speakers.  Volunteer physicians and settlement counsellors are available at the CCVT to provide assessments, make referrals and conduct legal examinations as necessary. For more information, visit the CCVT website.


Note: As medical doctors, Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and are covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). They require a referral from a family doctor. Psychologists, Counsellors and Therapists, however, are not able to prescribe medication, and their services are not covered by OHIP.

These were our top 5 picks, but there are plenty of other resources and services available. For a list of mental health care providers, please visit:

Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology

Ontario Psychological Association Referral Service

Ontario Psychotherapy and Counselling Referral Network


Or, for more general information on Mental Health and Mental Health Disorders, check out the following resources:

Navigating Mental Health Services in Toronto (

                Alone in Canada: 21 Ways to Make it Better—A Self Help Guide for Single Newcomers (

Mental Health and Addiction A-Z (CAMH)


Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below, or write to us at

©Kaila Simoneau for Loretta Murphy Translations. All Rights Reserved. 2017


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