The presence of anxiety itself can make it difficult to get help for anxiety, as it can all feel overwhelming. There may also be a sense of shame about anxiety symptoms and about seeking support.
However, knowledge about anxiety conditions is increasing, and there are many resources that help people navigate the systems of mental health help. A visit to a walk-in clinic or a family physician is always a good first step. Doctors there may refer individuals to a range of other resources that offer services that are specific to mental health.
Here are a few of the types of resources that can help an individual with anxiety:
Psychiatrists – A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication. They may combine this medical approach with “talk therapy”, which can include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral interventions, or other techniques. In cases of individuals who exhibit very severe anxiety symptoms, psychiatrists may recommend hospitalization.
Psychologists, counselors, psychotherapists, and social workers – These are all professionals who can use a wide variety of therapeutic techniques to help treat mental health problems. Unlike psychiatrists, they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication. All these titles can be applied to people with different approaches to treatment and different types of training; always feel free to ask a mental health professional what their education and experience are.
Anxiety treatment centres – There are some centres (these may or may not be part of a larger institution, like a hospital) that bring together a number of mental health professionals to offer a variety of mental health services. They may offer inpatient and/or outpatient programs.
Help lines – There are many mental health help lines across Canada. These sometimes partner with crisis units, so they can provide direct intervention in the case of an emergency (please remember than if there is an active emergency, the best thing to do is always to call 911).
Community-based organizations – These groups may offer services such as support groups, structured anxiety management programs, and referrals.
Some organizations can act as directories that help individuals with anxiety to find mental health practitioners and services in their areas. The Canadian Mental Health Association is an example of this.
Some individuals with anxiety go outside of conventional medical and clinical health care systems to use alternate medicine and holistic approaches.
People with anxiety can look for support in the form of self-help programs and online and in-person support groups and networks.
The ADAO has put together some lists of resources that are available to people in Ontario who wish to seek help with their anxiety: