Challenges & Choices: Finding mental health services in Ontario
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People first diagnosed with a mental health problem may feel that life will never be the same. They may find that their condition disrupts their work, school and home life. And they may feel unable to take on responsibilities or take part in activities. These feelings are natural and understandable. But with effective treatment and support, people often return to their previous lifestyle, responsibilities and activities.
Setting goals and priorities is key to making changes successfully. Your goals and priorities are individual--it is different for every person. Set goals that will challenge you and that will allow you to enjoy and find meaning in what you do. And take some risks--without getting too overwhelmed. Decide how much stress is too much for you and know when to slow down. Finding the right balance can be hard, but it can be learned. Getting better is a process that happens in stages.
It helps to discuss your goals with your family, psychiatrist or other health care professional, such as a social worker or a case manager. Both social workers and case managers can link you with other agencies and services, communicate with your family and other caregivers and keep track of your progress. Part of their job is helping you have the best quality of life possible in the community. That could mean finding housing, school, work, social activities or medical care--or dealing with money issues or other hardships.
An important part of recovery is spending time with loved ones--family, friends, a pet or perhaps your co-workers. These supports can be a great source of comfort. Other times you may want to open up to someone who has no connection to your personal life, such as a therapist.
You must be the judge. People who don't listen and people who criticize or put you down are not supportive. Do you have supportive people in your life? Are your relationships only based on getting support from people or do you like spending time together? Does your friend or family member want to be a support?
Social and recreational activities
Exercising. Seeing movies. Having lunch with friends. Taking a bubble bath. Cooking. Looking at clouds. Drinking herbal tea. Taking up a hobby. Volunteering. There are lots of great, low-cost activities you can do alone or with a companion to feel better!
Here are a few more ideas:
- Find out about social and recreation drop-in centres through your local mental health agency, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association.
- Look for programs offered through community centres and your local parks and recreation department.
- Find out about social groups or associations within your ethnocultural community by picking up a copy of the community newspaper.
- Search the Internet for free things to do in your community or city, or check the events listings in your local community newspaper.
- Visit local attractions such as a scenic route, historic site or museum.
- Get involved in local amateur sports organizations.
- Take part in spiritual activities--this could mean attending a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other religious institution. Or you may want to try meditation, yoga, tai chi, karate, journal writing, drumming, painting, praying or nature walks.
- Explore your creative side. You can take classes through local community colleges, art schools, boards of education, community centres and sometimes hospital outpatient programs.
In the hospital, there may be a recreation therapist who can assess your recreational or social needs and help you create a plan to satisfy these needs. For example, if you're feeling alone or isolated, the recreational therapist may arrange social outings for you.
We all need and deserve the self-respect that comes from doing something meaningful, whether it is a hobby, recreational activity or volunteer or paid work. It gives us a sense of purpose, connects us to other people, and, if we're lucky, provides the money we need to support ourselves.
Our society places a great value on work. Often the first question people ask when they meet someone is, "What do you do?" It's the way people judge others and, often, the way we identify ourselves.
Not having work can be discouraging and financially stressful. People who are out of work may begin to doubt their abilities and lose their self-confidence.
Some people who have a period of mental health problems recover fully and return to their jobs. Others never have to leave their jobs and continue to work as usual. Still others find that their problem is more constant and serious and that related difficulties--such as a lack of confidence, difficulty remembering or paying attention, anxiety, restlessness and tiredness--make it too difficult to work. Sometimes these are symptoms of the mental health problem. Other times they are due to the side-effects of medication.
People who have more than one problem (e.g., a substance use problem or an intellectual or physical disability in addition to a mental health problem) may find it harder to get a meaningful job and keep it. And they often face added discrimination.
Work can mean having a full-time job, working part-time, doing casual work (work that is neither pre-arranged nor regularly scheduled), being self-employed or doing volunteer work to gain experience and confidence in an area that interests you.
Volunteer work is often useful if you have been out of the workplace and need recent work experience and references. It is also an opportunity to find out if you need more training. Casual work is a source of additional income--for instance, for people who receive Canada Pension Plan Disability or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits.
Another option is working with an alternative business. Alternative businesses are started up and managed entirely by consumer/survivors. Employees have the opportunity to work flexible or part-time hours and receive skills training and mentorship (guidance and teaching). They are expected to participate in all business matters and are paid a fair market value for their work. The Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses (OCAB) provides support to consumer/survivor groups that want to set up their own business. Alternative businesses employ more than 800 people across Ontario.
For more information about creating an alternative business or working in one and for business contacts, call OCAB at (416) 504-1693 in Toronto. Their Web site is www.icomm.ca/ocab
For more information on how to approach economic development strategies, you can also contact the Ontario Peer Development Initiative. (See Consumer/survivor initiatives in Section 10
Many aspects of today's workplaces can contribute to anxiety and depression--everything from job insecurity and intense competition to long hours and contract work.
If you have a job, but worry that the effects of job stress may be making a health problem worse, you may want to consider asking for changes in your workplace or work schedule. These are called workplace accommodations. Depending on your needs, accommodations could mean changes in the workplace (e.g., a quieter office) or changes in how you do the work (e.g., taking more frequent breaks or time off to attend doctor's appointments, changes in job duties, working from home, or receiving more individual supervision or direction). Accommodations are made as long as you can still do the important, central tasks of the job.
In a small organization, approach your immediate supervisor directly about an accommodation; in a large organization, contact your occupational health and safety department or employment (and family) assistance program (EAP or EFAP) first. You may have to tell your boss that you have a mental health problem. This decision should be made carefully. Weigh the possibility of getting special accommodations with the possibility that your supervisor may view you differently as a person and as an employee.
EAPs and EFAPs are programs that an employer provides to its employees, usually for free. EAPs offer a range of mental health services, such as individual, family and marriage counselling and help with alcohol and other drug problems, legal and financial troubles, workplace conflict and other stress-related problems.
Various income benefit programs offer employment (job) support. This support could include job coaching, computer training and paying transportation costs to attend the training.
- Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides ODSP employment supports without requiring that you be receiving ODSP income benefits. You can receive these supports when you are working: for instance, if you are having trouble keeping your job because of a disability. Supports include specialized equipment, training to use the equipment, people to interpret and take notes, job training, transportation during job training, and job coaching.
For more information, contact your local ODSP office, or view their website
- Employment Insurance (EI) work supports are available to anyone in Canada. Work supports include use of faxes, photocopiers, computers (including Internet access) and job banks. Depending on the office and location, you may be able to get employment counselling and workshops on topics such as writing a resumé and learning job search methods.
For more information, contact Human Resources Development Canada toll-free at 1-800-206-7218. For a list of Human Resource Centre Canada offices, view the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) website at www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca
- Ontario Works (OW), formerly welfare, requires that you take part in an OW activity, such as employment support. (However, exceptions are made if you have younger than school-aged children or medical problems.) Employment supports include academic upgrading, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and other services to help you find work.
While involved in an OW employment support program, you may also be eligible for child care expenses and transportation to attend the program.
For more information about getting support, contact a caseworker through OW. To find your local OW office, call 211 in Toronto or (416) 397-4636 outside Toronto, or view their website
- Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program includes various services to help people receiving CPP disability benefits return to work. A vocational rehabilitation specialist works one-on-one with you on a return-to-work rehabilitation plan. You may also benefit from the program's job search skills, support for retraining costs and one-on-one guidance about your work needs and goals.
For more information, call Human Resources Development Canada toll-free at 1-800-461-3422.
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), formerly the Worker's Compensation Board (WCB), supports people who have had a work-related injury or illness. This includes:
- traumatic mental stress--a strong, severe reaction to something sudden and unexpected that happens in the workplace or
- psychotraumatic disability--having a mental health problem that results indirectly from an injury or accident at work or a condition that was caused by the work-related injury.
The disability has to have occurred within five years of the injury or within five years of the last surgical procedure. You cannot receive WSIB benefits for traumatic mental stress that results from the employer's work decisions or actions: for instance, if you are laid off, demoted or transferred.
WSIB provides 85 per cent of your net (after deductions) average income before the accident, helps with health care and offers various work supports. They include return-to-work programs involving changes to your job, job market re-entry assessments, job search skills and financial assistance for post-secondary education or other schooling.
For more information on WSIB, call 1-800-387-0750 or see the listing of phone numbers and addresses of local WSIB offices on the WSIB website at www.wsib.on.ca
Speak with a local mental health agency (e.g., your local CMHA office) about work supports in your area. Or ask your health care provider to refer you to an employee support program.
(For more information about these programs, see Income benefits
. For information on vocational programs, see Learning and developing skills below.)
Many people develop a mental health problem between ages 15 and 30, a time when they may be finishing secondary school or taking a post-secondary education program.
People with mental health problems succeed in their education like everyone else but mental health difficulties can affect learning. For instance, people with mental health problems may not be treated well by other students. They may fear failure, feel tired and have problems with some thought processes: focusing attention and thoughts, remembering things in the short-term, thinking and arguing critically, and solving problems. Some people may experience a crisis related to their condition, which could interrupt their studies.
In Ontario high schools, students with behavioural and emotional problems can receive special education through the Individual Education Plan. However, services for children and youth with mental health problems are very limited in the schools.
Some Ontario universities and community colleges have offices where students with mental health problems can get accommodations, or supports, to help them continue their studies; however, these services may also be limited. The name of the office to go to varies; for instance, it could be called the disability office, accessibility services or special needs office.
These offices can help students get accommodations such as:
- writing exams or tests in a separate location from other students
- having a longer time to write exams or assignments or
- dropping a course after the official deadline without charges.
Students can also get help to access other school services, such as the finance department, tutoring or mental health services. While you can approach a disability office at any time in the school year, contacting them early will mean that your request for an accommodation may be processed faster if you experience a crisis.
Some programs will help you upgrade your skills and increase your confidence:
- Skills training programs are offered through community and private colleges, universities and high school upgrading services. A local community centre or library may also offer skills training (e.g., computer training for people with low-income) or provide computer time free.
- Supported education programs help people with mental health problems prepare to return to school or work. These programs are often offered at community colleges. Classes may include assertiveness training, communication, stress management and academic courses.
- Vocational programs support your goals to return to work. They can help you rebuild your work skills and self-confidence and find jobs that fit your abilities and needs. These programs offer services such as vocational (job) assessment, career counselling, aptitude (capabilities and skills) testing, job search skills and on-the-job training.
Psychiatric drugs sometimes cost a lot, but various benefit programs exist that will cover some or all of your medication costs. If you feel that you cannot afford medications, discuss this with your doctor, pharmacist or caseworker. They may have helpful suggestions.
The Ontario government does not cover all prescriptions automatically. Some drugs are only covered for a specific use (e.g., bupropion is covered for use as an antidepressant but not when used by someone to stop smoking). You may have to try other less expensive medications first. If they do not work or have too many side-effects, then the cost of the more expensive or alternative drugs may be covered.
You may be eligible for the following:
- Ontario's Drug Benefit Program covers many prescription drugs for people 65 years of age and over and people living on disability or welfare benefits. The program includes a:
- Deductible Program for people aged 65 and over with higher incomes. You pay $100 every year up front (deductible), and then $6.11 for every prescription after that. Everyone automatically receives this benefit at age 65. Pharmacists can submit the claims automatically if they have your health card.
- Co-Payment Program for people aged 65 and over with lower incomes and people receiving support from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Each prescription can be filled for up to $2. To take part, your income or combined income (with your spouse or partner) must be below a certain amount. Applications are available at your local pharmacy. If you are aged 65 and over and are approved for coverage, give your pharmacist your health card number and your claims will be submitted automatically. If you are on OW or ODSP, you will need to show your drug eligibility card.
To find out more about who can use these programs, call the Seniors Information Line of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care toll-free at 1-888-405-0405.
- The Trillium Drug Program is an Ontario government drug benefit program. It is aimed at people who have no medical insurance, only limited benefits and/or people who take medications that are very costly in view of their income. Anyone with a valid Ontario health card can use the program. The deductible (amount you pay out first) varies depending on your income or combined income (with your spouse or partner) and the number of people in your family. The deductible is roughly four per cent of your household net income.
After you have paid the deductible, prescriptions cost $2 each. However, as with Ontario's Drug Benefit Program, not all drugs are covered. Applications are available at your local pharmacy.
Call the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care toll-free at 1-800-575-5386 for more information about the Trillium Drug Program.
- If you have a private health plan (e.g., a health plan organized through your workplace or Blue Cross), check to see which prescription drugs and what percentage of their costs are covered for you and your family members.
Your pharmacist may not charge the $2 administrative fee to fill a prescription. Pick up your prescriptions in person, so you can ask your pharmacist any questions about the medications. If necessary, some pharmacies will deliver to your home without charge. Look around for a pharmacy that meets your needs.
The laws around clients' rights may be difficult to understand, even to people who work in the mental health system.
Various brochures and booklets are available to help you know your rights.
- Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) is a community legal clinic that provides legal information in clear language that may interest people with low incomes and other disadvantaged groups. To order materials from CLEO, view their Web site at www.cleo.on.ca or call them at (416) 408-4420.
- Get a copy of Rights and Responsibilities: Mental Health and the Law to help you understand laws around mental health issues. Rights and Responsibilities is very detailed. The laws it describes may be hard to understand, but it is easier to read than the actual laws! The booklet is put out by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
You can read the full text of Rights and Responsibilities on the Consent and Capacity Board Web site at www.ccboard.on.ca. The Ministry provides more information on its Web site at www.gov.on.ca/health.
You can call on people who will advocate for you (speak for you and stand up for your rights) and provide you with information about your rights:
- The Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (PPAO) provides rights advice, advocacy services and information on the rights of clients and people looking for mental health services. This includes giving information to clients, families, hospital staff and the community about clients' legal and civic rights. Rights advisers and patient advocates are located in all current and former provincial psychiatric hospitals.
The PPAO can be reached at (416) 327-7000 in Toronto or toll-free at 1-800-578-2343. Or view their Web site at www.ppao.gov.on.ca. For more information about the rights of psychiatric clients, get a free copy of the PPAO's booklet Psychiatric Patients' Rights under Ontario Health Law.
Question: What can I do if I have a complaint about the care I have received from a particular health care worker?
Answer: The answer really depends on where you are living and your complaint. If you are a client at a psychiatric facility or hospital in Ontario, you can contact the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (PPAO). Or find out if there is a client relations office or patient representative that handles your complaints at the hospital. If the complaint is with a community agency or clinic, there won't be a patient advocate. However, certain health care workers, such as a case manager or social worker, could advocate for you. You could also report the problem to the health care worker's employer (e.g., a unit director or a supervisor).
If the complaint is against your therapist, you should contact the complaints department of the governing or regulatory college your therapist belongs to. Usually, a complaint needs to be in writing and must be sent to the registrar or complaints department of the college.
For more information, contact the PPAO for a copy of their brochure How to Complain Against Health and Social Service Practitioners.
Question: Can I see my file?
Answer: Clients in a psychiatric facility can ask to look at and copy their clinical record by filling out a Form 28, which they can get from the health records department of the facility. However, the hospital can try to hold back all or part of your record if you are considered at potential risk to yourself or others. To do this, the hospital must apply for permission to the Consent and Capacity Board. You will get notice of this application, and you have the right to participate in the Board hearing, with or without legal representation.
If you want to see your therapy records and you are receiving therapy outside of a psychiatric hospital, you can write a letter to the therapist requesting your records. Or ask the therapist in person if you can see them.
- ARCH: A Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities is a community legal clinic that serves anyone with a disability, whether it is physical, developmental, mental or emotional. ARCH provides a variety of services, including:
- free, confidential legal advice and referrals
- legal representation for precedent-setting (model) cases
- public legal education (a worker will come and speak to your group about a particular legal issue relating to disabilities)
- ARCH Alert, a newsletter about subjects related to disability and the law.
- ARCH can be reached by calling (416) 482-8255 in Toronto or toll-free at 1-866-482-2724. Their TTY line is (416) 482-1254. You can view their Web site at www.arch-online.org.
If you need legal advice, there are a number of ways to find a lawyer who knows mental health law:
Talk to family members and friends to see if they know someone.
Contact a community agency, such as a counselling service or women's shelter, to see if they know someone who can help you.
Check the Yellow Pages of your phone book under "Lawyer" or contact the Lawyer Referral Service offered by the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario). Note: There is an automatic charge of $6 for contacting this service at 1-900-565-4577. People in jail, people under 18 or people in crisis situations (e.g., domestic abuse) can call (416) 947-3330 in Toronto or toll-free at 1-800-268-8326. The referral service gives you up to a half-hour free consultation, which includes referring you to a lawyer who's best suited to help with your concerns and needs.
If you need help to pay for a lawyer, contact Legal Aid Ontario to find out if you can use their services and, if so, how to apply. Call them at (416) 979-1446 in Toronto or toll-free at 1-800-668-8258. Or visit their Web site at www.legalaid.on.ca
. (For information on diversion programs, see Forensic services, in Section 8
We all need comfortable, safe, affordable housing, a place we can live with dignity--not just a house but a home.
Many people will comfortably continue to live where they've always lived. But some people will need to make changes. If you need housing, various options exist for people with a mental health problem. You can find an apartment or house where you can live independently or with varying levels of support from workers who will come to your home. Or you can live in a home where you have support with day-to-day living.
If you have been an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital or unit, a social worker or caseworker may talk to you and members of your family about living arrangements. You may be able to return home, go to a group home or find a room or apartment where you can live on your own. It is common for people to try one living plan and then another to find the one that suits them best. For instance, you may find that a more supportive environment is important early on in your recovery, but you might prefer to live independently at a later stage. Ask about all the options that are available in the community.
What you choose will depend on your needs as well as what is available when you are looking. Here are some questions to help you choose the most appropriate housing:
- How much can you pay? (Prepare a budget.)
- Do you like the neighbourhood? Is it safe?
- Is the place in good condition?
- How much support do you need?
- Is there shopping close by? Public transportation? Are you close to a mental health agency or worker?
- Do you want to live alone or with others? If you choose to live with other people, will you be compatible with them in the home?
There are housing workers in the community who can assess your housing needs and tell you about the housing and supports that are available. You may face a waiting period before the type of housing you want becomes available.
The range of housing choices varies greatly between communities--with far less available to First Nations and other isolated communities. Here are the five main types of housing:
- Private market housing refers to a home that is privately owned. There are no government subsidies and the rent is not based on your income. This includes:
- rooms, flats, apartments (in a house or apartment building) or houses. It is usually cheaper to live with other people than to live alone. If you want to live alone or choose to share a place with other(s), you could check the For Rent listings in the Classifieds section of newspapers. If you prefer to find a place where people are looking for a housemate, check the Shared Accommodations listings under Classifieds. (Shared accommodation usually means having your own bedroom and sharing the rest of the space in the house or apartment.) You could also look for signs on public bulletin boards (e.g., in laundromats or grocery stores) or windows of houses in the area where you would like to live.
- rooming or boarding houses. Both rooming and boarding houses involve living together in one house or building, and often sharing rooms with someone else. Rooming houses do not include meals; boarding houses do include meals.
- Social housing is housing that is partly paid for by government or charges rent geared to income. In this kind of housing, the rent will never be more than 30 per cent of your income. For this reason, many people on social assistance (e.g., Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Plan) choose this option. However, there are often long waiting lists--sometimes as long as eight to 10 years.
In Toronto, you can call Toronto Social Housing Connections (416) 392-6111 to find out about all rent-geared-to-income places in the city. There is no central number for social housing outside Toronto.
- Supportive housing is housing where there are support workers in the home who work for the housing provider. The support varies depending on what you need. There could be no support, on-call support, weekly or daily support or 24-hour-a-day support. To get into supportive housing, you need to meet certain conditions: have a diagnosis of a mental disorder for a minimum length of time or have been admitted to a psychiatric facility a minimum number of times or for a minimum amount of time.
Most supportive housing (e.g., a boarding home, a group home or a co-op) involves sharing living space. However, there are some apartments where you can live on your own.
- Supported housing differs from supportive housing. With supported housing, the support worker provides care and services from outside the home. People living in supported housing tend to need much less support and can live more independently than people in supportive housing. Supported housing could be a social housing coalition or any other housing environment that provides staff from a community agency. Support workers could be:
- visiting homemakers who come in for about an hour a day to help with chores like laundry and cleaning (This service is not easy to get.)
- case managers or support workers who spend most of their time helping the client with living skills, such as learning to use the local transit system or learning to cook, prepare a budget and shop or
- nurses who give medication and provide support and counselling.
- Emergency housing includes shelters and hostels. It is set up as temporary housing for people in crisis. The people who use shelters and hostels generally have no home or their homes have become unsafe (e.g., people who are living on the street, refugees or new immigrants awaiting housing, women who have been abused). Many shelters provide services to specific groups of people: women only, families, women and children, single men only or youth). (See Safe houses and shelters, p. 74, in Section 9.)
For information about landlord and tenant laws, call the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal's toll-free number at 1-888-332-3234, or view their Web site at www.orht.gov.on.ca
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) offers free, easy-to-read information on such topics as rent increases, maintenance and repairs and care homes. To order materials from CLEO, view their Web site at www.cleo.on.ca
or call (416) 408-4420.
If you are looking for housing but don't have a telephone where someone can reach you, some drop-in centres or community facilities will let you use their address or phone number as a temporary contact. Some may even set up a voice mail message system for you.
Many people with mental health problems maintain their job and income levels. For others, it is a struggle and they may find themselves in need of income support. The income programs listed below have different applications, conditions and requirements. They may also have long waiting times.
These are all income benefits not related to work that you may qualify for if you have a mental health problem. (For work-related benefits, see Work supports
- Ontario Works (OW), formerly GWA or general welfare assistance, provides financial help and employment support for people who are able to work but unable to find a job, or unable due to medical problems. OW helps people who are applying for Ontario Disability Support Program benefits but need money right away. You can apply directly at the municipal office closest to where you live or by calling toll-free at 1-888-465-4478. You may be able to apply by phone and bring the required support documents to the office. A caseworker at your local office can provide more information.
- Ontario Disability Su pport Program (ODSP), formerly known as Family Benefits or FBA, is funded by the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services. ODSP provides financial assistance to people who have a substantial mental or physical impairment or disability that is expected to last a year or more and affects the person's ability to handle work or daily living. Financial assistance is available up to $930 per month for a single person and up to $1,417 for a family of two or more. You may also be able to get other help, such as public transit tickets. Ask about all possible types of financial help.
You can apply for ODSP directly at the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services office or your local OW (social services) office if you need money immediately. The application includes forms that must be filled out by your doctor or another health care professional.
- STEP is an ODSP benefit that allows you to have more money if you choose to work. Through STEP, you can keep your full ODSP cheque and earn up to $160 per month at a job, if you are single, and up to $235 per month at a job, if you have a family. If you make more than these amounts, your ODSP cheque is reduced. Even if your income is high enough that you are taken off ODSP, you may still qualify to receive health benefits if you have high medication costs. If you lose your job for any reason, you can get back on ODSP.
- Community Start-Up Benefit (CSUB) is an ODSP/OW benefit of up to $799 to help you with costs to set up a new home (e.g., buying furniture, moving costs, rent deposit). To get CSUB, you must qualify for ODSP or OW. And you must be moving either because your current home is unsafe (e.g., you have an abusive partner) or you are leaving an institution, such as a psychiatric hospital, group home or prison. To get the CSUB, you will have to give your OW (social services) or ODSP caseworker an item-by-item list of costs to move and set up your housing.
- Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) of $112 per month ($3.75 per day) is available to people who receive ODSP (and their dependants) if they are in a provincial psychiatric hospital or one of various other facilities. This money is meant for personal spending and costs for items such as clothing, school tuition, hygiene products and nutritional supplements that are not provided by the facility.
- Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits is a program funded by the Canadian government and run by the Income Security Programs of Human Resources Development Canada. This plan provides income benefits to people (and their dependent children) who:
- have contributed to CPP for a minimum qualifying period
- have a severe, continuing physical or mental disability, as defined by CPP legislation and
- are between the ages of 18 and 65.
You must apply in writing. To get an application kit, call toll-free at 1-800-277-9914. If you have a hearing or speech impairment and use a TDD/TTY device, call 1-800-255-4786. You can also view the Human Resources Development Canada Web site at www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/isp
- Before going to the office, make sure that you have all the right identification, which may include birth certificate; passport; proof of citizenship, for immigrants who have become Canadian citizens; record of landing, for permanent residents or immigrants; social insurance number; health card. And have all the papers ready that you need (e.g., current bank statements, proof of housing or shelter and expenses, proof of income from any source).
- Find out when the office is open and--if possible--the least busy time to go.
- If you are calling a phone line, try first thing in the morning and avoid lunch hour.
- If you have an appointment about your application, be on time by planning to be early, in case of problems with transportation.
- Contact a community legal clinic for help if you have been denied ODSP and need help to appeal the decision.
Challenges & Choices: Finding Mental Health Services in Ontario