Let’s talk about talking about our mental health issues

On Jan. 6, Bell launched its “Let’s Talk” campaign which aims to weaken the stigma surrounding mental health problems through donations to health organizations and pro- moting open dialogue. Partners for Mental Health has also been campaigning to get people to open up about mental health is- sues as well as encouraging people to get help through their TV commercials.

In other words, two Canadian companies are lobbying for citizens to open up about their struggles with mental health and to find help. But finding help for mental health problems, especially as a student, isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Concordia Counselling and Development offers students a limited number of personal counselling sessions, between 10 and 12, lasting one hour each.

That is, if you can get an appointment. For a first-time appointment, the first opening the downtown campus has (as of the print- ing of this article) is in three weeks. There is slightly more availability at Loyola.

If a student suffers from a mental health issue that requires medication, Concordia offers “short-term psychiatric services,” and then students are referred to external resources.

External mental health resources, such as psychologists, are covered by the CSU Health Plan up to a maximum of $75 per visit, $400 a year. Additionally, the psy- chologist must be licensed, therefore a visit to a therapist or social worker would not be covered. Furthermore, Quebec Medicare

only covers psychiatric services provided by a general practitioner, not a psychologist or therapist.

According to the Montreal Therapy Cen- tre website, their therapy sessions range from $50 to $110 per session.

Depending on an individual student’s needs, they may not be able to afford all the help they need. It may also be difficult for students to find time in their schedules to accommodate the limited availability of psychologists.

There are options out there for students who need help, but they need to be pretty determined to get it in a timely and finan- cially sustainable manner. For instance, the CSU Health Plan requires that students pay up front in full and then submit a claim to get reimbursed. This takes time — time and money a student may not have depending on their financial situation. Additionally, in

order to get an appointment a student must have a flexible schedule or else go out look- ing for a psychologist that has availabilities that accommodate the student’s schedule. This could mean traveling across the city to get to a psychologist with the appropriate vacancy.

Lastly, not every psychologist is suited for every patient. A person dealing with mental health issues needs to be comfort- able with whomever they are talking to. This presents another hurdle in finding the help one may need.

It is all well and good to encourage peo- ple struggling with mental health problems to seek help but it needs to be recognized that the demand for mental health services often outweighs what the community can provide. What is needed is more resources for supporting mental health at both the campus level and the community level.



  1. Completely agree over the fact that we lack resources to help people get the support they need. I’ve been through the system for a coupe of years now, have tried psychology, psychotherapy, art therapy, group meetings- you name it- but no one ‘clicks’. Instead, the professionals have seemed to classify me as an animal of some sort, referring me to as “the one with _____” (the name of my disorder) instead of actually calling me by my name. At school, counselors have simply called my parents or have sent me to the nearest clsc because “they felt I needed professional help” but couldn’t even offer an ear to have me simply talk.
    I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily want ‘help’ but just some sort of outlet so I can spend my own time in trying to get better, but these ‘professionals’ seem to miss this point. They think every patient with mental illness can be helped by following a certain module, but it isn’t the case! Every patient is different, and the system itself completely misses that!
    campaigns like this help people who suffer from mental illness come out and speak up. Hopefully, someone will listen and take what we say into consideration.

  2. Excellent article. I’ve never heard anyone so accurately describe the shortcomings of the personal counselling process at Concordia. I had a similar frustrating experience when looking for help, so I hope this article finds it’s way to the decision makers at Counselling and Development.

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