We all know Metro Vancouver is an expensive place to live. Add counselling costs and sometimes it may feel as though getting help or a little relief is an added financial burden. Some treatments can be expensive and stressing about paying for them can make your mental state worse.
But there are lower cost or free ways to access therapy or some advice. Mental illness impacts one in five Canadians at some point in their lifetime and I don’t mind sharing that I am one of those people. Over the years of living with recurring depression, I have learned a few things about how to manage my well-being on a budget. Here are some tips:
1. Check out the Canadian Mental Health Association Bounce Back Program (FREE!)
The Bounce Back program is free with a physician’s referral to residents of British Columbia who are experiencing symptoms of depression. The program helps build skills in the area of emotional wellbeing through a variety of elements, including a community ‘coach’ who is available by telephone.
2. Books at public libraries (also free)
There are so many great books on the topic of mental health and well-being and the most inexpensive place to find them is at your local public library. There have been many great books I have resourced to support me on my own personal journey through depression. Some of my favourites include:
- Your Depression Map, by Randy J. Paterson, Ph.D.
- Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath and Jim Harter
3. Give back. Volunteer with a community based organization. FREE!
I began volunteering as a writer and speaker with Partners for Mental Health about four years ago. Since then, I have gained a community of friends across the country who have similar experiences. I also feel better knowing I am helping others by sharing my own story.
4. Your employee and family assistance provider
If you are employed and have a company benefits plan, don’t be shy. You are fortunate to have coverage to take advantage of. Many plans offer free counselling services or a health spending account that can be used for other things such as registered massage therapy and visits to see a psychologist.
Depression and anxiety can be very difficult to live with when left untreated. Don’t let financial constraints hold you back from feeling the best you can.