Time and money – along with stigma – are often cited as barriers to getting treatment for mental health. But, a program called BounceBack addresses all those concerns.
For 24-year old Shealyn Ivany, it turned out to be the only formal type of mental health treatment she needed after she graduated from the University of Toronto in 2017.
“A lot of my anxiety and depression was situational at that time, because of the uncertainty that I felt in my life and within myself.”
She had always been a high achiever in school but was unable to find a fulfilling job after university and fell into depression.
A solo trip to Banff, Alta. gave her time for introspection and confidence that she could succeed with some help.
Her physician referred her to BounceBack, a phone-based service for anyone above the age of 15.
BounceBack helps people with mild to moderate anxiety or depression, or even those having difficulty with stress. Clients can be referred by a doctor or be self-referred. The program began in British Columbia and was brought to Ontario five years ago.
Rebecca Shields, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in York Region said “this is a program that they can access over the phone and they get connected to a coach who can help them work through an individualized program.”
Clients call in and set up an appointment to talk with their own personal “coach,” who will teach them CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
CBT is a method of modifying one’s thinking and behaviour to reduce anxiety. To attend an in-person session on this method can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, which is money Ivany didn’t have as a newly graduated student. Furthermore, she was concerned about the amount of time and travel that might be involved in seeking treatment.
BounceBack is free – managed by the CMHA. Coaches are available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends. As well, since it is done over the phone, it’s discreet and there’s no travel time involved.
Clients are given a series of workbooks, chosen specifically to address their own individual problems, such as difficulty sleeping or being assertive.
“I like to think of it as guided self-help” Ivany said. “So you check in with your BounceBack coach every month but for the majority of the time it’s just you with these worksbooks that address areas you want to work on.”
She spent five months doing the BounceBack program and says she’s doing fine now. She writes and speaks about mental health to groups and she’s started her own website - livingembrace.ca - to give hope to others.
As she contemplates the importance of Bell Let’s Talk Day, she says “I love how these initiatives bring attention to the topic in such a widespread way on days like Bell Let’s Talk Day but for me, I really believe this is something we need to talk about every other day of the year as well.”