A sign that says: "health & wellness centre: better starts here" with rainbow pride flags

How to Access Counselling Services at U of T

Last spring, after years of struggling with my mental health and feeling like I could never change, I finally decided to take the plunge and start counselling services. Being a U of T student with limited money, on-campus services seemed like the obvious option. 
  1. On-location Counsellors For me, the first step was registering with the on-location counsellor at Victoria College. These counsellors are available to students in various colleges and programs and are great because they have the capacity to see students quickly.  A list of locations where embedded counsellors are available, which can be found on the Student Life mental health page linked above.
Keep in mind that on-location counsellors (and Health & Wellness) only offer short-term services, and are registered social workers, as opposed to psychiatrists. This means that they can’t diagnose you with a mental illnesses or prescribe you with medication. But, they’re a great place to start. To sign up with your counsellor, just phone Health & Wellness. Though I didn't spend a long time with my on-location counsellor, I’m super grateful for her. She introduced me to counselling services at U of T, and also pointed me in the direction of a certain type of therapy I now do regularly (DBT).  2) U of T Psychiatrists  But, I was looking to get diagnosed to really understand my mental health and what I could do to help myself. So, I decided to register with the psychiatrists at Health & Wellness because they offered this service. First, I phoned Health & Wellness and made an appointment with a general doctor to have a mental health assessment. This was an hour-long appointment in which the doctor asked me questions about my mental health. If they determine that you would benefit from psychiatry services, they’ll refer you to the psychiatrists.  A sign that says "health & wellness centre: better starts here." After about a month, Health & Wellness phoned me and I booked an appointment with them. At my appointment, the psychiatrist gave me a formal diagnosis and recommended that I start a community-based DBT therapy program. The clinicians are great because they figure out what services are best for you. That means they could sign you up for individual counselling at U of T, refer you for medication, or refer you to a support group. They'll determine what you need and get you there.  3) Community Resources Now, thanks to the recommendation of my psychiatrist, I’m pursuing off-campus mental health help. I really recommend you check out Stella’s Place and LOFT, which are two community-based organizations that provide mental health services for free. They often have long waiting lists, but they provide unique services worth checking out.  A book entitled "The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook" 4) Private Counselling  Private counselling is also an option I’ll likely pursue in the future. Though private counselling can seem super expensive, it’s actually covered in the UTSU Health and Dental Plan ($125/session). So, using your health plan, you can basically get private counselling for free or close to free.  Even though accessing mental health services on campus may seem frustrating or intimidating, know that you can get the help you need. If you have any questions, comment them below and I’ll do my best to help you out! 

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