Health & Wellness

Ontarians Can Soon Get Free Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) will be available for anyone with depression or anxiety

Photo: iStock/SeventyFour. 

The Ontario government announced recently the creation of a new program that will provide free therapy for those with anxiety and depression.

Expected to launch in the spring of 2020, the publicly-funded Mindability program will offer cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) via Internet modules and workbooks, in combination with over-the-phone counselling or in-person group or individual therapy. People will be able to sign up online, over the phone, or by text; the provincial government says a hotline and website will be shared soon.

“Ontario recognizes there are gaps in care that require urgent attention. This program will increase access to care for Ontarians with anxiety and depression, the two most common mental health conditions,” read a statement from the provincial Ministry of Health announcing the program.

Currently Ontario’s public insurance provides coverage for mental health services only if they’re provided at a hospital or by a family doctor or psychiatrist. But, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in making the announcement on March 3. “Not everyone needs to see a psychiatrist.” In addition, there tend to be “huge” wait times to get those services, she said.

“The long-haul truck driver feeling isolated from friends and family, the middle-aged professional struggling with work performance, the Grade 11 student whose studies are now slipping: Each of these individuals has unique needs,” Elliott said in The Huffington Post Canada. “By matching them with the most appropriate level of support, Mindability will make a real difference in their lives.”

The new program will see $20 million in funding for its first year, according to Elliot, and 80,000 people will be able to access the service by time it’s “fully implemented” in the next three to four years.