Mental Health Services

Our mental health services target Toronto’s most vulnerable residents: immigrants, newcomers, refugees, non-status individuals and their communities. We are inclusive of youth, couples, families and LGBTQ+ newcomers. We support those referred with a mental health diagnosis or presenting with other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. We are currently providing counselling to clients of Access Alliance who are connected with a primary health care provider.

If you do not have a primary healthcare provider or are not a registered client of Access Alliance, please access the following resources for additional supports:

Mental health resources available within the City of Toronto (PDF 85 KB).
Mental health drop-in resources available to youth (PDF 72 KB)

Our Approach

We take a proactive approach to providing mental health supports, ensuring that we meet clients’ mental health needs by addressing the social determinants of health. This means not only offering counselling services, but ensuring clients have access to primary care, settlement, and community programs. As social inclusion is a key determinant of mental health, we strive to provide opportunities for connection and socialization.

Therapists at Access Alliance work from an integrated, trauma-informed model of practice. Our work is client-centered and based on principals of anti-oppressive practice and equity, using a social determinants of health approach.

Our professional social workers provide mental health counselling and education to immigrants, refugees and their communities who live in the City of Toronto. Our service is culturally sensitive and language accessible. We are committed to providing a respectful, confidential, non-judgmental environment that values your needs, experiences and knowledge using an anti-oppressive, trauma informed approach.

Therapists at Access Alliance will help you process and work through difficult issues affecting your life. They can help you enhance your awareness, understanding and coping skills to more effectively manage life circumstances. Some examples of concerns that you might access support for include anxiety, depression, experiences of trauma, relationship challenges, and the impacts of homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and other structural oppression. 

Therapy is a process where the client and therapist work together. It is a mutual relationship and while therapists are skilled at giving feedback, client’s feedback is welcomed and expected. Counselling sessions are typically 45 to 50 minutes in length and occur weekly or bi-weekly when possible. Clients are able to access up to 16 therapy sessions and develop a treatment plan for these sessions that will guide them through the process 

Support groups are based on the needs of community members and bring together individuals to share, discuss and build connections on matters they have in common. Support groups are often run by a counsellor therapist in partnership with other supportive service providers in order to create a safe place for participants to share their challenges and experiences within a caring community. Examples of the groups we offer include Mindfulness, Support for LGBTQ+ Refugees, and Support for Women with Precarious Immigration Status. Please see our program calendar for current group programming.

Expressive arts helps participants express life stressors, trauma and experiences of migration through creative mediums. It is an effective means of reducing social isolation as it encourages clients to express themselves authentically while having their identity embraced by their peers.

Expressive arts can be particularly helpful to clients facing language barriers as it offers a medium of expression beyond verbal language. Access Alliance uses a variety of expressive arts mediums including visual arts, music, photo-voice, dance, spoken word, and embroidery to support the well being of community members.

Access Alliance has developed resources that share best practices in delivering expressive arts programming with newcomers to Canada.

Stepping Up To the Plate Toolkit

The Stepping Up to the Plate Toolkit was developed to address issues of violence and community safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) newcomer, immigrant and refugee women. Best practices were based on two pilot expressive arts groups, one of which was specifically for trans-identified newcomer women of any sexual identity

The feedback throughout the pilot groups affirmed that the expressive arts program model outlined in our Promising Practices Tool Kit provides a space for participants to explore the impact of their experiences, discover creative coping mechanisms, and experience relief from the stressors in daily life. It also allows participants to safely practice and develop confidence with new skills, and draw on these skills to make changes in their lives.

Tatriz: Traditional Embroidery with Arabic Speaking Women
With the influx of Syrian refugees in 2016, Access Alliance was on the front line providing health and settlement services. Many refugees from the region arrived with a history of trauma and loss and there was an urgent need for accessible mental health programs. This video demonstrates how Access Alliance answered the call using art therapy and the medium of traditional embroidery.

This video was produced in partnership with the Community Integration Network, a program of the Catholic Centre for Immigrants.