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Is therapy free for refugees in Toronto?

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Who is a refugee?

According to the Government of Canada, “a refugees are people who have fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution”. Studies have shown that violence, war, displacement, and resettlement puts individuals at a higher risk to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Once in the new country, refugees encounter difficulties such as insecure immigration status, limitations on work and education, insecure housing, poverty, isolation, and poor access to services among many other struggles. As such, providing mental health services (therapy) to refugees in Toronto should be a priority to help reduce post-migration stressors.


Who is eligible for free therapy in Ontario?

A Registered Psychotherapist in Toronto, who is registered with the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) can provide free therapy to resettled refugees, protected persons in Canada, and refuges claimants. Individuals who are a part of the IFHP can benefit from free therapy sessions in Toronto- GTA by asking their family doctor to provide a request for psychotherapy.  To find out whether you qualify for free therapy under the IFHP coverage, read the information on this link and speak to your family doctor.

You can find a registered psychotherapist in Toronto and GTA, who can provide therapy in your own language, from the directory of therapists in Psychology Today.


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What are the benefits of seeking therapy post-migration?

Studies show that depression, anxiety, and PTSD are common mental health issues among asylum seekers. While the severity of these disorders may decrease over time, but they may continue years after settling in the new country. As such, accessibility of services in the beginning of resettling is very important.

While clinicians should take resiliency of the newcomers into count and emphasize on the individual’s ability to adapt in the face of adversity, it is important to be mindful of the on-going stressors that asylum seekers may face, such as separation from culture, loss of friends and family, isolation, and lack of support in the host country. Moreover, discrimination and marginalization and language barriers, which may be a daily struggle for newcomers need to be addressed as they can be a source of stress.

Overall, therapy in the beginning phase of resettling, can help individuals explore their identity in the host country, improve self esteem and self confidence to build social networks and a sense of belonging and decrease isolation and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Trauma-informed therapy can also help individual address the emotional and psychological impacts of the traumatic event.