It has been over a year since COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. As we struggle with the realities of our “new normal,” mental health has become more openly discussed and less stigmatized. Mental health conditions are not exclusive to the autism spectrum, but autistic children, youth, and adults are more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions. The pandemic has highlighted the need for more information, resources, and supports for the autism community.
Due to a range of biological and/or environmental factors, many autistic people face conditions such as Depression, General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), ADHD/ADD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Executive Dysfunction (ED), Schizophrenia, and Tourette’s. Autistic individuals can receive their mental health diagnoses along with their autism diagnosis.
On the contrary, many adults can be misdiagnosed with a mental health condition at a younger age and learn later on in life that they are actually autistic. When the mental health diagnosis they received does not entirely match up with the overall picture of their experiences, many decide to pursue an autism assessment as an adult. In BC, Psychiatrists typically recommend an autism assessment as a result of counselling/therapy when they notice autistic traits in their patients.
“Mental health conditions are not exclusive to the autism spectrum, but autistic children, youth, and adults are more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions.”
Considering the bias and challenges that many Autistic people face, it is best to approach treatment with inclusivity of all conditions (i.e. mental health and autism). Mental Health treatment options can vary based on individual needs and available services in their province or region. Work closely with your family doctor, pediatrician, psychologist/psychiatrist, and/or counsellor and reach out to regional supports. We have divided the list below into categories to help you find the resources that best suit your current needs.
Awareness & Co-Occurring Conditions
Anxiety Canada — “Anxiety Canada is a leader in developing free online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety” (Anxiety Canada, n.d.).
Autism & Anxiety — Autism and Anxiety with Nate of Nate Searle Workshops (BCBA) (October 2019, Autism BC).
Increased Anxiety, Stress, and Other Mental Health Issues in an Isolated World— A blog that discusses mental health issues related to COVID-19 and the importance of self-care for everyone (Autism Awareness Centre, May 4, 2020).
Autism BC Staff Sharing — Lisa’s Mental Health Journey
Mental Health – Children, Youth & Adults
Child & Youth Mental Health — “The Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) teams located across B.C. provides a range of mental health assessment and treatment options for children and youth (0-18 years of age) and their families at no cost. Our clinics are staffed by mental health clinicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists” (Government of BC, 2021).
Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre — “The Maples is an accredited facility that offers specialized programs and services to address the needs of young people (12 to 17 years old) who have a lot of mental health concerns or troubling behaviour” (Government of BC, 2021).
Kelty Mental Health — BC Children’s — “[Kelty] supports families across BC navigate the mental health system, offering peer support, resources and tools” (Kelty Mental Health, 2021)
Compass Mental Health — BC Children’s — “A province-wide service that supports evidence-based care to all BC children and youth (0-25) living with mental health and substance use concerns” (BC Children’s Hospital, 2021).
Kids Help Phone — 1-800-668-6868. Children and teens can call to speak to a counsellor 24/7.
Family Smart — An organization that supports parents/caregivers of children/youth dealing with mental health challenges. For support, connect with a Parent in Residence email@example.com or at 1 (855) 887-8004.
The Foundry — “A province-wide network of integrated health and social service centres for young people ages 12-24. Foundry centres provide a one-stop-shop for young people to access mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports” (The Foundry, n.d.).
Provincial Assessment Centre — “The Provincial Assessment Centre (PAC) is mandated to provide multi-disciplinary mental health services for referred individuals ages 14 and up with a developmental disability and a concurrent mental illness or behaviour issue. PAC is a part of Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) and is designated as a tertiary care mental health service under the Mental Health Act” (CLBC, 2018).
Youth in BC — “A program of the Crisis Centre. It connects youth with support, information and resources” (Youth in BC, 2013).”
DDMH – Developmental Disabilities Mental Health — Contact your Health Authority if you have a child that is 14-years-old or older and has a developmental disability.
BC Children’s Hospital – Mental Health Services – “Provide psychiatric assessment, short-term individual, family and group treatment, and medication review” (BC Children’s Hospital, 2021).
BC Children’s Hospital Child Life Department – “Certified Child Life Specialists at BC Children’s Hospital make hospitalization a more positive experience for patients through play, therapeutic interventions, preparation, and creative arts” (Provincial Health Services Authority, 2021).
BC Children’s Hospital Indigenous Patient Navigator – “We advocate for and provide help to Indigenous families who are visiting the hospital” (Provincial Health Services Authority, 2021).
Alberta Health Services – Community Education Services – Free, online classes and workshops.
Counselling BC — “Our mission is to provide you with the best online information resource in British Columbia regarding counselling, psychological services, art therapy and psychotherapy” (Counselling BC, 2021).
Stigma-Free Society — Mental Health Tools for All Ages, aiming to “Create a World without Stigma” (Stigma-Free Society, 2021).
Mental Health and Autism Project — Video series featuring keynote speakers discussing various mental health topics, including selective mutism, anxiety, OCD (ACT, 2021).
Increased Anxiety, Stress & Other Mental Health Issues in an Isolated World — This article discusses mental health issues related to COVID and the importance of self-care for caregivers (Autism Awareness Centre, May 4, 2020).
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) — CMHA provides resources and guidance in finding services in your community.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) — Based in Toronto, CAMH is “Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre” (CAMH, 2021).
Mind Health BC — “MindHealthBC is a one-stop-shop that gathers the wealth of evidence-based resources available in your community and combines them into one easy-to-use website” (Mind Health BC, 2017).
Crisis Line Association of BC — “The Crisis Line Association of BC (CLABC) is the provincial association representing member crisis lines across BC. The organization is dedicated to ensuring that every person in BC has access to the needed emotional support and critical services that crisis lines provide. With this in mind, CLABC developed two provincial networks: 1-800-SUICIDE and 310Mental Health Support. The networks enhance immediate access to 24-hour crisis line services for anyone at any time from anywhere in BC” (Crisis Line Association of BC, n.d.).
Here to Help BC — “Explore strategies to help you take care of your mental health and use substances in healthier ways, find the information you need to manage mental health and substance use problems, and learn how you can support a loved one” (Here to Help, 2019).
Bounce Back BC — “A free evidence-based program designed to help youth and adults experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. Bounce Back® teaches effective skills to help people improve their mental health” (Bounce Back BC, 2019).
Wellness Together Canada — “A mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada. We provide the following resources for you at no cost: immediate text support, information and videos on mental health issues, wellness programs you can do on your own or with coaching, community and peer support, individual phone, video and text counselling” (Wellness Together Canada, 2021).
Mental Health Crisis Line — 1-888-737-4668 Free, confidential 24/7 service for individuals, families and friends.
Struggle Care — “This site is for those who struggle to complete care tasks. There are lots of reasons why care tasks may be difficult for a person: mental health, chronic illness, neuro-divergence, problems with executive functioning” (Struggle Care, 2020).
Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism
BC’s Hub for Workplace Mental Health
Self-Care for Moms with Tammy Thielman — This interview was filmed around Mother’s Day and self-care for moms; however, it applies to any caregiver (Autism BC, May 2020).
Self-Care for Autistic Children & Teens with Colleen Fuller — Everyone needs to take care of themselves, across all ages. Do you know what you can do to help your child or teen on the spectrum to practice self-care? (Autism BC, May 2020)
Staff Sharing: Self-Care as an Autism Parent — A blog written by Lindy, our Information Officer, about her lived experiences being a caregiver to both her son and her parents and how she had to prioritize self-care to keep her whole family healthy (Autism BC, May 1, 2020).
Staff Sharing: It’s Okay to be Selfish Sometimes — A blog written by Lisa, our Interior Regional Coordinator, about why it is important to put yourself first sometimes to maintain good mental health (Autism BC, May 14, 2020).
Caregivers and Increased Demands During the Pandemic — Blog about caregivers experiencing more stress during the pandemic. Signs to know if you are in crisis and some simple tips to manage stress (Autism Awareness Centre, March 10, 2021).
Prince George Native Friendship Centre — “Supportive counselling and assessment is flexible, available in an outreach format, and incorporates Indigenous healing” (NHA & Prince George Native Friendship Centre, 2011).
Carrier Sekani Family Services (North Central) — “Counselling program accepts anyone through the policy of “every door is the right door”, free of charge” (Carrier Sekani Family Services, 2021).
Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society (Houston) — “Mental health counselling and supports in Houston for individuals, couples, and families who want a third party for support, coping, and problem-solving” (Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society, 1974).
Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre — “Offers counselling services to people who may have difficulty accessing other counselling in the community” (Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre, 1981.
Mackenzie Counselling Services:: Home Child and Youth Mental Health Services
- Family Enrichment Program
- Child and Youth Care Services
- Family Support Services
- Infant Development Program
- Supported Child Development
- Safe Home Program
Northern BC Crisis Centre – You are not alone. We are here for you 24/7. (crisis-centre.ca)
North Coast Transition Society
- NCTS offers family counselling for individuals, couples, and families.
- NCTS provides support and advocacy for families. Assistance with paperwork and accompaniment to appointments may be available.
Northwest Inter-Nation Family and Community Services — NIFCS offers an Aboriginal family counsellor and other family support programs.
Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert — This service offers confidential meetings, referrals, advocacy and workshops to individuals expressing an interest in a quest for personal healing.
Mental Health Outreach (friendshiphouse.ca)
Westbank First Nation — “Our health and wellness programs aim to promote physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and healing. Healthy families create healthy communities. Unless otherwise noted, programs and services are offered at the WFN Health & Wellness Building” (Westbank First Nation, 2021).
UBCO Psychology Clinic
Third Space Charity – “[We] provide free supportive care counseling for students or young adults, online or in person, six days a week” (Third Space Charity, 2021).
Centralized Access and Rapid Engagement Service (CARES) — “Centralized Access and Rapid Engagement Service (CARES) provides screening, assessment, treatment recommendations and referrals to Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use and external community programs in the Victoria area” (Island Health, 2021).
UVIC Psychology Clinic — “The UBC Psychology Clinic is an outpatient mental health and state-of-the-art training clinic. Our team of professionals are dedicated to excellence in the assessment, treatment, research and training of clinical psychology” (UBCO, n.d.).
Ledger House Victoria — “The Ledger Program is an island-wide resource that provides acute, in-patient, hospital-based psychiatric services for children and youth-serving all Island Health children, youth and families. We provide stabilization, assessment, treatment planning and short-term interventions for children and youth aged 6 to 16 (Island Health, 2021).
Third Space Charity – “provide free supportive care counselling for students or young adults, online or in person, 6 days a week” (Third Space Charity, 2021)
UBC Psychology Clinic — “The UBC Psychology Clinic is an outpatient mental health and state-of-the-art training clinic. Our team of professionals are dedicated to excellence in the assessment, treatment, research and training of clinical psychology” (UBC, n.d.).
SFU Psychology Clinic — “The Clinical Psychology Centre (CPC) is an outpatient mental health clinic and training centre that is part of the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University (SFU, n.d).
BC COVID therapists: As the pandemic continues, many are feeling the effects on their mental health. Access to counselling can help with managing changes to our mental health and well-being. B.C. continues to offer free or low-cost counselling options to anyone who needs it. The BC COVID-19 Mental Health Network provides province-wide access to free, phone-based, short-term support with a counsellor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an appointment time.
Virtual Mental Health Supports During Covid-19 — “Virtual services are available for British Columbians who are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges” (Government of BC, 2020).
The Wellness Society — “Practical, fluff-free and beautifully designed self-help, therapy and coaching tools” (The Wellness Society, 2018).
Metis Crisis Line — 1-833-METIS-BC (1-833-638-4722)
Mood Disorder Association of British Columbia
First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health and Wellness Support
We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation by Eric Garcia
Burnout by Emily Nagoski
Calm App — “Our goal is to help you improve your health and happiness” (Calm, 2021).
Insight Timer App — “Free app for sleep, anxiety and stress” (Insight Timer, 2021).
Headspace — “Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world” (Headspace, 2021).
Do you know of a mental health resource that should be included on this list? Please let us know here!