Every year, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health concern. By seeking help, you may worry about how others see you. It is important to remember that it takes courage to speak up and asking for help only means that you want to make a change, or you want to take steps towards your new health goals.
What is Mental Health?
Just like physical health, mental health is something everyone has. Good mental health gives us the ability to work through and deal with the stresses and hardships that are factors of life for everyone. It also helps to determine our ability to handle stress, relate to others, make choices and overcome difficulties.
When Should I Ask For Help From a Psychologist?
- I can’t work through problems myself or with the help of family and friends.
- I feel helpless or hopeless and the problems do not seem to get better no matter what I do.
- I have been feeling sad, blue, anxious, nervous or tense for a long time.
- I or others notice a major change in my mood or behaviour.
- I am finding it harder to concentrate, make decisions, eat, sleep, or do my usual activities.
- I have difficulty relating to my spouse, partner, family or others.
- I have difficulty adjusting to changes such as divorce or death.
- I have difficulty dealing with stress, physical illness, injury or disability.
- I am dealing with problems such as drinking, gambling or drugs.
- I have questions or concerns about parenting issues, my child’s behaviour or learning abilities.
- I am having career or work-related difficulties.
What is Psychotherapy?
Practicing psychologists typically use psychotherapy, commonly known as therapy or counselling, as a treatment method to help improve a patient’s mental health. This practice has been supported by evidence-based treatment and has been proven effective in countless studies. Though each person’s experience is unique there is substantial evidence that 50% of patients noticeably improved after 8 sessions, while 75% of individuals in therapy improved by the end of 6 months.
It is important that when you begin therapy you and your psychologist establish clear goals. Certain goals will require more time to reach than others so you should decide together at what point you may expect to begin to see progress.
How Do I Find a Psychologist?
- Talk to family or friends.
- Ask your family physician or health care worker.
- Call your community mental health centre or hospital.
- APNS has a Find a Psychologist service. The are registered, and you can search by community location, clientele age range, psychologist’s qualifications and expertise. You may also call APNS for further information at 902-422-9183.
What Should I Expect When I Meet with a Psychologist for the First Time?
It is important that you and your psychologist will work well together. You need to be able to feel comfortable, respected and understood by your psychologist and should also feel you can be honest with them.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Are you a registered Psychologist?
- Do you have experience working with people my age?
- What kind of experience do you have in helping people with my problem?
- What will happen during our sessions?
- How long is a therapy session? How many sessions will there be?
- What is your policy about privacy and sharing information with my family physician, school or workplace?
Paying for Psychologists Services
Hospitals and Community Mental Health Centres
Services are provided through government funding and are usually available at no cost. However, you don’t get to choose whom you see, and the waiting periods are typically much longer.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Many companies have EAPs to help employees with emotional and other mental health problems. You may be able to see a psychologist or other mental health specialist through your EAP. Contact your supervisor or personnel department to see if this is possible.
Many people are covered by a supplementary health care plan through their employer, in addition to MSI. Many supplementary health care plans pay a portion of the costs of seeing a private psychologist. Talk to your insurance carrier or employer to see if you are eligible.
If you see a psychologist in private practice, you will be charged for their services. You may wish to speak to several psychologists before making a decision.
Below is a list of questions you should ask:
- What is the fee for your services?
- Will I have to pay HST? GST?
- If I miss a session will I be charged?
- What types of insurance do you accept, and do you bill my insurance company directly?
- Do you offer a “sliding fee” scale (your income will help to determine your fee)?
Fees for Private Psychological Services
APNS does not regulate the rate charged by Psychologists; however, this figure is offered as a general guideline to assist individual Psychologists in representing themselves to their clients, indicating the level of fees that they may be expected to charge. Effective January 1, 2018 (currently in review) APNS has set the recommended fee for psychological services provided by registered psychologists in Nova Scotia at $190 per hour.