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Are there free or low-cost counselling options for my child?

There are many ways to access counselling in BC – some charge a fee, and others are free of charge. Here are some key tips for your search:

  • Look into free or low-cost counselling in your community
    • Free counselling and mental health treatment is available through Child & Youth Mental Health (CYMH) services for ages 18 and under. CYMH is run by the BC Government. They are located in around 100 communities in BC. See the list of walk-in intake clinics and their hours.
    • Free drop-in counselling for young people ages 12-24 is available at most Foundry Centres. Foundry Virtual also offers virtual drop-in counselling sessions (online).
    • See if there are groups like the United Way or Boys and Girls clubs in your community that offer free or low-cost counselling.
    • Indigenous children and families may be able to access counselling services through the First Nations Health Benefits Program, from a mental health provider who is registered on the Health Benefits Provider List. This is a service through the First Nations Health Authority. You can also contact your local Band Office or Friendship Centre about counselling options. 
  • Ask about lower fee or sliding scale payment options

Some private counsellors or psychologists offer reduced cost or sliding scale for payment based on your income. Some might have information on their website about reduced rates.  

It’s always best to directly connect with the counsellor you’re interested in working with about your financial situation. It’s okay to ask: “Do you offer sliding scale fee options?” when you first call to make an appointment. This is a common question! Please don’t be embarrassed to ask it.

  • Check your coverage through work (employee benefits)

Some employers offer employees and their immediate family counselling services, or will cover some costs as part of their extended health benefits or short-term employee assistance programs (EAP). Check what services are covered as it varies from plan to plan. For example, some will only pay for counselling by a registered clinical counsellor or psychologist. Also, check with the counsellor you’re interested in working with about what they accept.

  • Connect with your child’s school

If your child is in university or college, a fee for counselling is often included in their tuition as part of Student Services. Look into what's covered. Many University wellness centres offer some short term free counselling.

If your child is in elementary or high school, there may be a counsellor at their school and you can request a meeting. Even if your child’s school does not have a counsellor on staff, every school district has a team of counsellors that you can access. Call your school district directly if you need to.

For younger children (under age 5), specialized early childhood mental health services are available. For more information, contact a child and youth mental health intake clinic to see what might be available.

You can contact us at the Kelty Centre and we’ll try to give you some recommendations for your community.

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