Helping you help others.
If you are looking to support someone aged 0-18 and their family in accessing community-based mental and developmental health services or programs in Toronto, we can help.
We’re here to share information about available resources and help facilitate referrals and intake.Explore the FAQ for more details
Have questions? Our friendly and experienced team can help.
Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST
Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST
Tell your client or patient to call Help Ahead or call us with them!
Whether you call with your client or they call us on their own, our team is experienced, empathetic and ready to listen and guide children, youth and families with infants through available, local resources. We can set people up with an immediate counselling session and/or connect them to a local community-based agency and initialize the intake process.
Physicians looking to refer a young patient (0-18 yrs) to mental health health services in Toronto can submit a request via CognisantMD’s Oceans platform. We will receive your request and can call your patient or their family directly to discuss suitable options based on their needs and begin the intake process with them. If you have questions about available options for service, you can also call us.
(Note the Ocean’s page still references our former name, Mental Health T.O.)
Physicians looking to refer a young patient (0-18 yrs) to mental health or developmental health services in Toronto can download the form below and fax it to us at (647) 689-7582 or email email@example.com. We will receive your request and can call your patient or their family directly to discuss suitable options based on their needs and begin the intake process with them. If you have questions about available options for service, you can also call us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you provide services in different languages?
Help Ahead staff speak English and there is an option when you call to press 2 in the greeting message to speak with someone in French from Centre Francophone. At this time, we do not have the ability to provide services in languages. Please ask a family member, friend or other person you trust who can speak English to help you with the process.
Other language requests can be accommodated in What’s Up Walk-In counselling sessions if there is a language specific counsellor available. This usually means making a counselling session may not be immediately available and booking an appointment may likely be necessary. Some of the clinics can arrange for interpretation services.
For ongoing services, some of the clinics can arrange for interpretation services. During the initial intake process, our Help Ahead staff would identify language needs and consult with agencies before sending the referral to see if the language required can be accommodated.
Is your service free?
Yes! Calling Help Ahead and speaking with a member of our team is always completely free. We are funded by the Government of Ontario.
What’s Up Walk-In counselling sessions, accessed by calling us, are also available, free of charge.
For ongoing services, we will explore the options through our partnered community mental health agencies available to you at no cost. Should you be interested in fee-for-service programs or treatments, we can share relevant options for those as well.
What kind of information do you provide?
We provide information about:
- Mental health services in your neighbourhood or in other parts of the city
- Crisis lines
- Self-help groups
- Distress centres
- Family services
- Information and referral to other services
Who can call Help Ahead?
Anyone under the age of 18 looking for mental health services or anyone who wants to support someone under the age of 18 can call 1-866-585-6486. This includes young people, a custodial parent or guardian who wants to be connected to a community-based mental health service serving infants, children, youth and families.
Healthcare and education professionals and service providers can also call us to learn about services in the community. However, we cannot proceed with a referral without speaking to or getting consent from a custodial parent, guardian or youth 12yrs and over.
What are the parameters around consent to treatment?
We must have consent from both legal guardians for children under 12yrs of age.
We must get consent from anyone participating in treatment that is over 12yrs of age.
If a child or youth over the age of 12 does not want to access counselling or treatment, we can help connect families to local parent/caregiver groups and programs.
We cannot accept 3rd party referrals.
What ages do you serve?
We can connect individuals aged 0-29yrs, living in the Greater Toronto Area to What’s Up Walk-In sessions.
Access to ongoing mental health and counselling services, is provided to children and youth 0-18yrs and their families living in Toronto.
Who will the What’s Up Walk-In counselling session be with?
What’s Up Walk-In sessions are generally provided by a registered psychotherapist or registered social worker.
What’s Up Walk-In sessions are not with a psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychologist and psychiatrist require a doctor referral and are generally sought after to provide assessment and possibly medication management.
What’s the difference between What’s Up Walk-In counselling and ongoing support?
What’s Up Walk-In is meant to be a single session and provide support in the moment. It can be accessed as needed, but it is NOT a connection to a regular, consistent counsellor. Repeat callers are not guaranteed that they would speak to the same counsellor if they were to call again.
When referred for ongoing support individuals and/or families are assigned to one counsellor who will do the work with them on an ongoing basis until the service has ended.
Do you offer family and relationship counselling with What’s Up Walk-In?
What’s Up Walk-In is not ideal to support family and relationship counselling due to virtual limitations – it is intended for individual support.
What’s Up Walk-In can support individuals 0-29 years of age for direct support relating to themselves, or can support a parent of anyone 0-29 years if the reason for the call relates to their child.
Family support can be accessed through referral for ongoing support to one of our partner agencies.
Is this service only available to people living in Toronto?
Help Ahead can refer children, youth and families to our partner agencies in Toronto for ongoing support, but we can provide resources in the GTA for people to contact on their own if they are calling from outside Toronto.
For What’s Up Walk-In we can support the GTA with a limited capacity as some clinics will only accept callers residing within Toronto.
After I call you, how long do I need to wait before I can get help?
The mental health worker will send your referral information to the appropriate agency the same day you call us. You can expect to hear from the referring agency within five (5) business days to arrange a time to complete a more thorough assessment.
If you are calling about a counselling session through the What’s Up Walk-In Clinic you can expect to connect with a counsellor the same day.