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Breaking down the barriers to accessing community-based mental health services (en anglais)
Breaking down the barriers to accessing community-based mental health services (en anglais)
Posted on 02/08/2023

Breaking down the barriers to accessing community-based mental health services

Accessing free counselling and other mental health

Dr. Ginette Poulin offering virtual care
Dr. Ginette Poulin, Medical Director
of Concurrent Disorders, offering virtual
care though the Georgianwood
Virtual Program

and addictions support services has never been easier in Simcoe County and Muskoka thanks to a new innovative online booking platform and many programs that can now be accessed without a doctor’s referral. 

Navigating the mental health care system can be confusing and time consuming, and sometimes we just don’t know where to start. Long wait times, stigma, financial barriers, and not having a primary care physician have all contributed to people not being to access the right care at the right time. However, for people living in Simcoe County and Muskoka, there is now a variety of free, low-barrier services to meet the needs of youth, adults and families. 

The Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program (OSP) offers adults with depression and anxiety-related conditions access to publicly funded, effective cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and related approaches. The program includes services that research has shown to be effective, and that take into account individual cultural and language needs. A stepped care model also flexibly tailors the level of clinician involvement to the person’s needs, and enables the program to maximize the number of people it supports and minimize their wait time. Available by self-referral, referrals in our area are coordinated by Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care and services are delivered in a wide range of community settings across the region. 

The program comes highly recommended by a past client who shares “I whole-heartedly recommend CBT to anyone struggling with mental illness. The series and the therapist I worked with helped pull me from the darkness and gave me the tools and confidence to find my light, and for that I am so very, very grateful.”

Another tool making services more accessible is the website for booking services offered through Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County, the North Simcoe Youth Wellness Hub and Frontline Wellness. This new innovative booking platform allows users to book individual and family counseling appointments, access peer support and navigation services, support groups and other resources from a variety of providers who are offering both virtual and in-person appointments. Users simply choose the service they’re looking for and select a convenient date and time for appointment, all from their computer, phone or tablet. There is no waitlist and appointments and providers are being added all the time. 

For adults 18+ who are struggling with mild to moderate symptoms of mental illness and substance use (in combination known as “concurrent disorders”), the Georgianwood Concurrent Disorders Virtual Program might be the right fit. Also available by self-referral for those with a primary care provider, this 100 % virtual program consists of a multidisciplinary team that provides concurrent disorders treatment to individuals living in the community, allowing people to access to specialized services such as group and individual therapy while still maintaining their everyday commitments.

According to one client who has completed the program, “The Georgianwood Virtual Program was an integral part of my treatment plan. This program came at the right time and it was what I needed to get unstuck, change my actions and start living. My experience in the program was transformative and valuable! This program is a life-changing gift and I am forever grateful!”

Looking for help in a complicated system can sometimes feel like a burden, but it doesn’t have to. Along with Waypoint’s Central Intake Service which you can call to discuss your or your families’ needs with a clinician, these services are working hard to reduce the barriers and make their services easier to access for everyone who needs them. If you are experiencing challenges with your mental health, reach out today.

Ontario Structured Psychotherapy (Psychothérapie structurée Ontario)
Frontline Wellness (Bien-être pour la première ligne)
Georgianwood Virtual Program (Programme virtuel Georgianwood)
North Simcoe Youth Wellness Hub (Carrefour bien-être pour les jeunes de Simcoe Nord) 
Waypoint Central Intake – 705-549-3181, ext. 2308 (Service centrale d'admission)