Counselling and social support for low income Ontarians

Status Natives: You may be eligible for free counselling, whether you have a low income or not. See therapy for First Nations and Inuit.

Abusive partner? Domestic Violence Care Centre at Womens College Hospital 24/7 416-323-6040

Unfamiliar with IT? see free technical help for seniors

Free therapy for Natives with status

Free short term therapy for women

Free online government programs:
Help with alcohol or drugs
Telephone coaching for stress or depression

Your doctor might be able to refer you to free psychotherapy by a doctor covered by OHIP. In some cases this can work out really well. However GP psychotherapists are trained as doctors with varying amounts of additional counselling training, and psychiatrists are in such short supply that most try to see as many people as possible and therefore cannot spend the amount of time needed for doing psychotherapy. So if you have tried psychotherapy under OHIP and it hasn't helped, don't assume that psychotherapy doesn't work for you.

You may have a limited amount of free counselling available through your work via an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Low cost personal growth groups and workshops
These groups are about learning how to relate to people, but they are not therapy groups.

Free groups for beating addiction plus resources--books and videos. They ask for donations if you can afford it.

Ontario Caregiver Organization help line. If you are caring for a family member and need respite care or information, call 1-833-416-2273 or visit

Help for parents (including parents with concerns about adult children)

Low cost therapy, supervised students, $40.

Short term affordable groups for LGTBQ+ people recovering from religion. See

The Family Services Association has variable fees based on income and number of dependents. The counsellors are social workers trained in counselling, and their main focus is marriage and family counselling.

Redbird Therapy has some supervised trainees with lower fees.

You may have to put yourself on one or more waiting lists.

The quality of counselling and psychotherapy varies a lot in both in the private and public sectors, and a service that is a good fit for one person or family might not be useful for someone else. If your counselling is not helping, discuss it with the provider, get a second opinion, and /or look for another resource.

From CAMH: Finding digital mental health tools during pandemic

See also: 

Free online stress reduction/mindfulness training for youth aged 14 to 27 at

Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Women's College Hospital groups for women

Help for children with mental health issues and their families

Programs for women who have experienced violence

Egale Youth OUTreach, a youth housing support and crisis intervention centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S) homeless youth (16+), those who are unstably housed, or those who are at risk of homelessness in the GTA. See

Family Law in Toronto for information about dealing with separation, divorce, family violence, custody etc.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
DRUG AND ALCOHOL INFORMATION  Taped  information messages at 416-595-6111 or 1-800-463-6273. Some are available in Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish and Urdu as well as English and French.

The Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy offers private appointments with a supervised student therapist for a fee of $20 (including HST) per session, and this fee is applicable for as long as the student is in training. Relational therapy with recent graduates of the Institute is available at $40 (including HST) per session for up to 20 sessions. They also offer couples therapy at $40 (including HST) per session for up to 12 sessions. The school is run by Pat de Young, a leading Toronto psychotherapist and educator.

Good2Talk Helpline for Post Secondary Students: 1-866-925-5454

East Metro Youth Services Walk in Counselling Clinic: 416-438-3697

Scarborough Mobile Crisis Unit: 416-495-2891

Toronto Distress Centre: 416-408-4357

KIDS HELP PHONE 1-800-668-6868,

NEIGHBOURHOOD LINK--SUPPORT SERVICES FOR SENIORS, including social activities and help to enable seniors with disabilities to stay in their own homes 416-691-7407,

SMOKERS HELPLINE run by the Canadian Cancer Society offers free telephone counselling to help you quit at 1-877-513-5333. (British Columbia call 1-877-455-2233; Quebec, call J'arrete at 1-888-853-6666). 

SCARBOROUGH WOMEN'S CENTRE: educational and support services geared to the needs of low-income women and women who are or have been in abusive relationships, some services free, others affordable, 2100 Ellesmere Road, Suite 245,  416-439-7111. Scarborough Women's Centre

ANOREXIA BULIMIA FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP  meets at Metro City Hall downtown. For information, call leader Antionette Dunn at 416-766-8134.

SHEENA'S PLACE, 87 Spadina Rd., Toronto, 416-927-8900. A variety of groups for adults and teens with eating disorders and body image issues.

BIRTH PARENTS AND ADOPTEES NORTH YORK SUPPORT GROUP For information, call Rishy, North York, 416-226-3015 or Dena, Thornhill 905-889-5646

SOUTH ASIAN FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES  Ellesmere/Markham Rd. , Scarborough; 416-431-4847. Counselling, advocacy, interpreting, English classes, workshops etc., all free.

ARTHRITIS SELF MANAGEMENT PROGRAM, 6 week program presented by the Arthritis Society, small fee, 416-979-3760.

CREATIVE CHILD/PARENT CENTRE, West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre--drop-in for parents and caregivers of pre-school children, 416-755-9215

ASSOCIATION OF PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS IN ONTARIO INC.  Their 24 Info line is 416-223-7444 or 1-800-488-5666.

PFLAG: Parents, Friends, Families of Lesbians and Gays, meets in Scarborough. 416-438-3697

THE WOMEN'S HEALTH RESOURCE CENTRE, free library and referrals to resources, downtown Toronto at 790 Bay Street, part of the Regional Women's Heath Centre of the Women's College Hospital, 416-351-3716

GP PSYCHOTHERAPISTS, general practitioners (medical doctors) who do counselling. They are not psychiatrists, but all have some training in counselling/psychotherapy, and some have a lot of experience. Doctor's referral needed.

WHAT'S UP WALK-IN  A free mental health service for youth and families--drop in if there is a personal problem you need to talk about. Markham and Ellesmere in Scarborough. No appointment or health card needed. Most things you would talk about are confidential--feel free to ask for details on the confidentiality policy. For hours, see


SCARBOROUGH PSYCHOLOGISTS They are not free, but your work plan would likely pay for a few sessions

Dr. Arunkumar S. T. Pillai PhD., C.Psych and Dr. Pushpa Kanagaratnam PhD, C.Psych
Psychological Recovery Clinic [Consultants in Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychology]
2100 Ellesmere Road, Suite 334, Scarborough, ON M1H 3B7
Phone: (647) 342-5444 | Fax: (647) 342-7000
Serving Adults and Couples
Languages: English, Hindi, Urdu,Norwegian, Malayalan and Tamil
Services Provided:
(a) Psychological Treatment – Individual, Couple, Group; Treatment of Driving Fear/Passenger Fear/Pedestrian Fear; P-GAP (Pain Disability Management);  Stress Management, Anger Management, Addictions Treatment; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Depression/ Anxiety/ Pain/ Posttraumatic Stress Disorder/Specific Phobia; Crisis Intervention/Trauma Counselling 
b) Psychological Assessments - Comprehensive Psychological Assessment, Phobia Assessment (Driver, Passenger, Pedestrian), Psycho Vocational Assessment, Assessment for Immigration purposes,Assessments for Employee Assistance Programs, Custody and Access Assessments, Critical Incident or Trauma Assessment and Independent Medical Examination. 

For further resources, phone:

For newcomers: Free multilingual help getting access to health & community services, GLBTQ welcome 416-324-0927

The Self-Help Resource Centre  416-487-4355, for self-help groups, including 12-step groups

The Centre for Addiction and Mental health, Addiction Research Division 595-6111, for free addiction and alcoholism programs and up-to-date phone numbers for twelve-step groups such as CODA (Co-dependents Anonymous) and ACA. (Note: The former Clarke Institute of Psychiatry and the former Addiction Research Foundation have been amalgamated to form the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.)  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Community Information Toronto 416-397-4636

Information Ajax-Pickering 905-686-2661

Canadian Mental Health Assocation has a quick guide to free and inexpensive services

Links to more information:

211 Toronto (City Hall information line)

Re social agencies and government services

Charity Village, Toronto

Links to Canadian non-profit organizations by subject

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:
Fact sheet on child and adolescent development to find a family doctor or specialist


Vitamin D tests conducted on a group of University of Toronto students  found that virtually all non-white and a majority of white students had insufficient levels, putting them at risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer and diabetes. In Canada, everyone should take Vitamin D throughout Fall and Winter, and older people and dark-skinned people should take it year round. It is believed that many people need more than the RDA (official amount). Discuss with your dietician or doctor.

Give your energy and mental health a boost with better nutrition. Free advice from government-licensed dieticians. Call this toll-free number: 1-877-510-510-2 or visit


Copyright © 1998 Beth Mares

Last updated September, 2016

Beth Mares Counselling