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Questions and Answers

How can I pay for mental health care?


Author: Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division



Mental health services provided through the government-run (‘public’) system, like services you receive through your local mental health centre or team, an outpatient psychiatry at a hospital are most often completely covered by MSP. As long as you are eligible for MSP, you won’t have to pay to see someone.

For mental health services that aren’t covered by MSP, such as psychotherapy or counselling with a private practitioner, you will have to cover the costs yourself. It’s no secret that these services can be expensive, but you may be able to offset the costs through:

  • Extended health coverage from your own or an immediate family member’s workplace benefits

  • Employee (Family) Assistance Program from your own or an immediate family member’s workplace benefits

  • For students, school or campus mental health services

  • For Indigenous community members, services offered through your Band, Friendship Centre, Indigenous support organization, or the First Nations Health Authority

  • Cultural or faith communities may offer some mental health services

  • You may be able to claim some larger costs related to treatment of a mental health condition on your income tax return under health expenses

Some providers offer lower-cost services or a sliding scale, usually based on your income. Email us with your location and our information and referrals team can help you look for options in your area.

If costs are a barrier to health care, talk to your doctor to see if there are any services in the public health system (covered by MSP) that may be a good fit for you. You can also called the Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 (no area code) for more information on local mental health services.


About the author

cmha bc logo

The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit


Q&A is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that we’re asked most often. We'll offer tips and information, and we'll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email us at [email protected], tweet @heretohelpbc, or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.


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