Where Can I Get Help?

Two people talking outside

On this page you will find information about who to contact during an emergency, and how you can find help before that point.

Emergency Help

If you or someone in your care are having a mental health or substance use crisis:

  • Call 911 or go to your local hospital’s emergency room
  • Call the Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 or the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) for confidential, non-judgmental and free support available 24/7

What Families Need to Know During A Psychiatric Emergency [PDF]


Accessing Mental Health Care and Support

There are three primary routes to mental health care:

  1. Vancouver Coastal Health services, covered by your provincial health insurance (MSP)
  2. Private counseling, which may be covered by extended insurance plans.
  3. Community-based counseling and support groups, which are often low-cost or even free.

Accessing VCH Services

Formal care, like that offered by Vancouver Coastal Health in the HOpe Centre, is covered by your provincial health insurance. It includes a variety of both inpatient (staying in a hospital facility) and outpatient (coming in only for your appointments) psychiatric services including counseling, group therapies, occupational therapy, and more. What your care looks like depends on your needs and the assessment of your care team. One unfortunate reality of the mental health system is that there are often wait lists for VCH programs and services, but there are options to cover any gaps in care.

To access the psychiatric services covered by MSP you must first ask your primary care physician (GP or family doctor) for a referral to psychiatric services. On the North Shore, that care facility is the HOpe centre. If you don’t have a GP, you can talk to a physician or nurse practitioner at a walk-in clinic about a referral.

Accessing Private Counseling

Privately-practicing psychiatrists and counselors offer psychiatric services that may meet your needs. These practitioners should be prominently affiliated with a professional organization such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons or the BC Association of Clinical Counselors. There is generally a fee of about $100 to $200 an hour but many offer a “sliding scale” pricing that accommodates your ability to pay. Their services are not always covered even by extended insurance, however it is still an option for some.  What private counseling looks like also depends on your needs and the specialty of the counselor, and can include one-on-one therapy, group therapies, and differing therapeutic methods. There tend to be shorter waits to see a private counselor.

Community-Based Counselling

Organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association and Family Services of the North Shore offer short-term, low-cost counseling. These counseling programs are overseen by a professional counselor, but much of the counseling work is done by advanced counseling students completing their practicum work assignments. These servers are not always covered even by extended insurance, but can strike a balance between the high cost of private counseling and the longer wait-times of formal care. Sessions are typically around $20 a session or scaled based on your income.

These same organizations often provide support groups and supportive activity programs that may be free. Support groups are typically facilitated by a professional counselor, though they might also be facilitated by peers with similar experiences to participants and training in leading a group.


Our elders are a valuable and essential resource in our community. Elders can instill a sense of history and they can provide a deep and meaningful perspective on individual issues and social problems. Many services, agencies and organizations, even schools, utilize the role of elders to provide support to clients who may not have a family member that naturally fills that role. Within Aboriginal and First Nations cultures, an elder may conduct prayer, smudging and sweet grass ceremonies and can provide guidance.

Do you have an elder in your life you can turn to? What types of conversations are you comfortable having with an older person?

More Indigenous resources and services:

First Nations Health Authority