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First Nations & Inuit Health

Mental Health Counselling Benefits

The Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program's Mental Health Counselling (MHC) benefit is intended to provide coverage for mental health counselling to address crisis situations when no other mental health services are available and/or being provided. This benefit is intended to support the provision of immediate psychological and emotional care to individuals in significant distress to stabilize their condition, minimize potential trauma from an acute life event, and, as appropriate, transition them to other mental health supports.

If you're experiencing emotional distress and want to talk, call the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310. It's toll-free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or the number for emergency services in your community.

What is covered?

The MHC benefit provides up to a maximum of 15 one-hour sessions per mental health crisis over a 20 week period.Eligible billable services under the MHC benefit may include:

  • Initial assessment (maximum of 2 one hour sessions) performed by an enrolled provider; and
  • Counselling sessions on a fee-for-service basis as per Prior Approval Form (e.g. individual, family, or group counselling).

Please note that with the exception of the initial assessment, all services and modalities for the delivery of services must be prior-approved by the Health Canada regional office.

Who can provide Mental Health Counselling?

Mental Health Counselling must be provided by therapists registered with a legislated professional regulatory body from the disciplines of psychology and social work with clinical counselling orientation or mental health counsellors with education and training comparable to registered clinical psychologists or social workers. All professionals must be eligible for independent practice in the province/territory in which the service is being provided. In exceptional circumstances other providers may be accepted, on a limited basis, subject to certain conditions.

To provide Mental Health Counselling services to NIHB clients, providers must be enrolled with the NIHB program. More information on the provider enrolment process can be found in the NIHB and Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP) Guide to Mental Health Counselling Services.

How do eligible recipients access Mental Health Counselling?

NIHB clients should first contact their local community organizations (health centre, friendship centre, or primary health care provider) to determine if community mental health programs are available. If other mental health counselling services are not available, clients may contact their Health Canada regional office for a list of mental health counselling providers close to their community of residence.

Following the initial assessment, the provider will submit a Mental Health Counselling Prior Approval Form to Health Canada for determination of eligibility for coverage under NIHB.

How can I obtain more information on the Mental Health Counselling?

Please consult the joint NIHB and IRS RHSP Guide to Mental Health Counselling Services for more information on benefits eligible for coverage, how to access services through telehealth, the provider enrolment process, the prior approval process, claims reimbursement and the appeal process.