How to get the services you need

Site: CAMH Public Courses
Course: Youth Wellness Quest
Book: How to get the services you need
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 8:14 PM


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Puzzle Pieces - What

In this guide, “access” refers to how easy or hard it is to get the services you need. Being able to access your service provider is extremely important. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be getting the services you need!


Saffron finds a great counselling service, where she is able to get an appointment as soon as she wants! But she learns that they charge $200 for each session and it is a two-hour drive away. As great as the service may be, it isnt easy for her to access.


Jaye finds out about a service agency that has a peer-support program that he is interested in. He learns that it is only a 10 minute bus ride from his house, the service is free and the agency provides bus tokens. This service is easy for Jaye to access

This section will give you information on how to find and get the services that may be right for you.


During a first appointment, a service provider may gather information about you and how you feel. It can help to write down beforehand everything you want to talk about during your appointment. For example, you might want to talk about:

  • your symptoms
  • medications you’re taking
  • any questions or concerns you have
  • anything your family doctor may have recommended you ask the service provider.

How I want to book appointments

Some services offer different ways to schedule your appointments, like over the phone, by text, through their website or with a support person who books you in. Once you have booked an appointment, remember to write it down in a place you will remember. You might put a note on your wall or in the calendar on your phone.

If you are not able to make your appointment, try to call the service and let them know as soon as you can or at least 24 hours before your appointment. Find out about their cancellation policy. Some services may charge you a fee for cancelling without much notice.

Questions you may want to ask your service provider before your first appointment:

  • How long is each appointment?
  • What questions might I be asked?
  • What do I need to bring to my appointment?
  • Will there be anyone else at my appointment?
  • Can I bring a family member or friend to my appointment?
  • Can I make follow-up appointments?

Here are some questions that might be useful to ask your service provider:

  • What are the specific eligibility requirements for getting services?
  • If I don’t meet the eligibility requirements, will you help me find another service?
  • Do you have a list of other nearby services?
  • If there is a waiting list, what should I do in the meantime?
"Before seeking services, make sure you have all the information you need to be able to advocate for yourself. This includes being honest in how you are feeling. Knowing how to tell a professional how you are feeling will give you the best chance of success in accessing services for the first time. You are doing the right thing. Get help, even if you are the only one who thinks you should. You know yourself best and if you think you need help, you do."
—Isabella, youth advisor

Self-reflection activity

This is a self-reflection activity. As you do it, you can write your thoughts on a piece of paper. If you have an account, you can click on the button below to write your thoughts on a 'Notes’ page that you can print or save.

What kinds of things would make a service easy for you to access?

  Create an account to write notes in your journal.   

Getting there

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To receive services, you have to get there, unless they are online. This can sometimes be hard if you live in an area where there aren’t a lot of services available, you don’t have a car to use or public transportation isn’t easy to access.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • Is there a service that can help me get there?
  • Could a service provider come to where I am or meet me close to home?

Click the tabs to view each section.

If you are planning on taking public transit to and from appointments, it is important to think about the costs. Find out if the agency can help out with the costs of getting to and from appointments. Ask if they can cover transit, how it works and if there is a limit to how much they will cover.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • What are their office hours?
  • How can I get there? Is transportation provided?
  • Do I need a health card?
  • Will they see me if I am a new patient?
  • Will you pay for my public transportation to get there?
  • If there is a reimbursement process, how does it work? Is there a limit on how much I can be reimbursed?
  • I am on a provincial/territorial support program. Is there a particular reimbursement process I can follow for this program?
  • How do I get to your location?
  • Is there a map?

You can often find this information online or by calling them and asking!

For some people, it’s important and necessary for the service to be close by. Finding a service near you may be important if you do not have access to a car or do not live near a bus station, or if you are in a new area and are not comfortable travelling too far. Check to see where the service provider is located.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • I am unable to travel far. Are there any services I can access near me?
  • Can I get help travelling to appointments, like a peer support worker or agency vehicle?

Some services are able to send service providers to you! They may be able to meet you at school or even at your home. There are many reasons why someone may want the service provider to meet them where they are, especially if they have a hard time leaving home or getting to where the service is located.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • I am unable to travel to your location. Can you visit my school/home/rural area in person?
  • If the answer is no, you can ask: Do you have any tips for accessing similar services at my school or from home?

In some cities, it can be difficult to find parking. If you plan on getting to the service by car, it might be helpful to ask questions about parking.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • Is parking free?
  • Can I be reimbursed for parking?

  Create an account to write notes in your journal.   

Mobility device–accessible

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A mobility aid is a manual or electric device such as a wheelchair, scooter, walker, crutch or prosthesis that is designed to help people get around. People with mobility challenges may have difficulty accessing services that don’t have a physically accessible environment. If this applies to you, it would be good to talk to the service about your needs (see Support/accommodations for disabilities).

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider the following questions:

  • Are the offices and appointment rooms accessible for people who use mobility devices?
  • If the answer is no, you could suggest that the service make its space more physically accessible or ask if the service is able to come to you. Maybe a service like StopGap (which makes wheelchair ramps for businesses) could help them become more physically accessible.
  • Is the elevator easy to access?
  • Is there accessible public transportation for mobility devices that will take me directly to your service?
  • I will be using an accessible vehicle to get to the service. Is there parking near your office?
  • I require specialized transportation. Will your office reimburse me for it? Is there parking for my driver at your office?

  Create an account to write notes in your journal.   

After-school, evening and weekend appointments

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As a young person, you might have a lot going on. You may be in school and have other commitments that keep you busy. It may be helpful to use a service that is open when you have more time, like after school and on weekends.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider the following questions:

  • When is the agency open?
  • What hours are appointments available?
  • Is it hard to get late afternoon and evening appointments? Do they book up quickly?
  • Is there accessible public transportation for mobility devices that will take me directly to your service?
  • Are there “after-hours” options (after normal working hours, e.g., 8 p.m.)?

  Create an account to write notes in your journal.   

Free and low-cost services

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The costs of some services are covered by health insurance and others aren’t—it’s very important to make sure you know the costs before you start seeing a service provider. If you are not able to pay a lot for services, you might want to search for free and sliding-scale services.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider the following questions:

  • Do you offer low-cost or sliding-scale services?
  • What is the lowest amount that I would have to pay?
  • How do you calculate how much I’ll have to pay?
  • Are any costs covered by provincial/territorial insurance?
  • Do you accept private health insurance?
  • Do you have services for newcomers and refugees without health insurance?
  • I am First Nations but I don’t have a Status Card. Can you connect me with someone who can help me apply?

Health insurance in Canada

Some services are available without a health card and at no cost. Others ask for provincial or private insurance, or you’ll need to pay for them yourself.

Provincial and territorial health insurance is available to all Canadian citizens living in the province or territory. Permanent residents and people with other residency situations can also apply for it. For newcomers and refugees, there may be a waiting period.

Most insurance plans don’t provide much or any coverage for medication or visits to counsellors or therapists. For more information, see: and

Costs that aren’t covered by provincial or territorial plans might be covered by private insurance. Private insurance plans are ones that people choose and pay for themselves, get as part of their job or university benefits, or get through a family member's or partner’s benefits.

A Non-Insured Health Benefits Program for people who are First Nations or Inuit is also available. For more information on this program, see:

Key messages

  • Sometimes, getting to services may be difficult. Try letting the service know your concerns. They may have options that will help you access the service.
  • Once you have an appointment, be sure to find out the service provider’s cancellation policy, just in case you ever need to cancel an appointment.
  • Find out what services and medication your health card covers. You can also look for free and low-cost services in your area.

Please take a minute to tell us what you thought of this section.

Quest Marker

Play the Quest: Optional Activity

How to play

Read the five sections: What, Who, How, My rights and Self-help. At the end of each module, a word will be shown.

To finish the quest

At the end, combine the words you’ve discovered to reveal a final message.

  Write notes in your journal.